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Am J Surg Pathol. 2002 Aug;26(8):1048-55.

'Spindle cell oncocytoma' of the adenohypophysis: a tumor of folliculostellate cells?

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Bellaria Hospital, University of Bologna, Italy.


We describe five primary tumors of the adenohypophysis featuring mitochondrion-rich spindle cells. The patient ages ranged from 53 to 71 years (mean 61.6 years); two were female. All presented with panhypopituitarism. Two also had visual field defect. On neuroimaging all tumors showed suprasellar extension and were indistinguishable from pituitary adenoma. None showed imaging or operative evidence of dural involvement. All were gross totally removed: four by transsphenoidal surgery and one by frontal craniotomy. Follow-up ranged from 2 to 68 months (mean 35.4 months). No recurrences were noted. The clinical workup was noncontributory in all but two patients: one (case no. 4) with an oncocytic thyroid adenoma and another (case no. 5) with squamous carcinoma of both the uterine cervix and of vocal cord. Histologically, the five tumors were composed mainly of fascicles of spindle cells with eosinophilic, granular cytoplasm. Mitoses were rare and necrosis was absent. Neoplastic cells were immunoreactive for vimentin, epithelial membrane antigen, S-100 protein, and galectin-3. Stains for pituitary hormones, synaptophysin, chromogranin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, cytokeratin CAM5.2, smooth muscle actin, CD34, and CD68 were negative. No thyroglobulin immunoreactivity was noted in the tumor of case no. 4. Ultrastructurally, the neoplastic cells contained numerous mitochondria with lamellar cristae. The neoplastic cells were linked by intermediate junctions and desmosomes. No secretory granules were noted. The histologic, immunohistochemical, and fine structural features of these tumors were unlike those of pituitary adenoma or any other primary sellar tumor. A derivation from adenohypophyseal folliculostellate cells is suggested.

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