Corticotroph carcinoma of the pituitary: A clinicopathological study. Report of four cases

Thomas A. Gaffey, Bernd W. Scheithauer, Ricardo V. Lloyd, Peter C. Burger, Peter Robbins, Forouzandeh Fereidooni, Eva Horvath, Kalman Kovacs, Takao Kuroki, William F. Young, Thomas J. Sebo, Darren L. Reihle, Allan J. Belzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


To understand the relationship between pituitary adenoma and carcinoma, four adrenocorticotropic hormone-producing pituitary adenomas and corresponding metastatic carcinomas were studied. All were functional macroadenomas (three cases of Nelson syndrome and one of Cushing disease) that initially invaded the sella turcica and occurred in women ranging in age from 17 to 66 years (mean 45 years). Metastases (two craniospinal and two systemic) occurred after latency periods of 6 to 13 years. Histological specimens were immunostained for pituitary hormones, Ki-67 antigen (MIB-1), p53 and p27 proteins, D-type cyclins, and glucocorticoid receptor messenger (m)RNA. The DNA content of the specimens was assessed using Feulgen stain. Reactivities were quantified by digital image analysis. Primary/recurrent lesions and metastatic tumors differed according to their respective mean mitotic indices (1.2/10 hpf compared with 4.3/10 hpf), MIB-1 labeling (1.7% compared with 8%), p53 staining (37.3% compared with 49.9%), and p27 labeling (48% compared with 25%). Cyclin D3 immunoreactivity provided no prognostically significant information. Glucocorticoid receptor mRNA was detected in all cases. Results of a ploidy analysis were variable and nonprognostic. In keeping with the 2000 World Health Organization classification of endocrine neoplasms, our findings support the concept that primary tumors that exhibit mitotic activity, an increased (> 3%) MIB-1 labeling index, and/or p53 immunoreactivity should be termed "atypical adenomas" to denote their aggressive potential and the possibility of future malignant transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-360
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone
  • Carcinoma
  • Cyclin
  • Glucocorticoid receptor MIB-1
  • Pituitary
  • p27
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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