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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jun;90(6):3773-9. Epub 2005 Mar 1.

Hereditary leiomyomatosis associated with bilateral, massive, macronodular adrenocortical disease and atypical cushing syndrome: a clinical and molecular genetic investigation.

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  • 1Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Clinical Research Center, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1103, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC) is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by mutations in the fumarate hydratase (FH) gene on chromosome 1q42.3-43. Massive macronodular adrenocortical disease (MMAD) is a heterogeneous condition associated with Cushing syndrome (CS) and bilateral hyperplasia of the adrenal glands. In MMAD, cortisol secretion is often mediated by ectopic, adrenocortical expression of receptors for a variety of substances; however, to date, no consistent genetic defects have been identified. In a patient with HLRCC caused by a germline-inactivating FH mutation, we diagnosed atypical (subclinical) CS due to bilateral, ACTH-independent adrenocortical hyperplasia. A clinical protocol for the detection of ectopic expression of various hormone receptors was employed. Histology was consistent with MMAD. The tumor tissue harbored the germline FH mutation and demonstrated allelic losses of the 1q42.3-43 FH locus. We then searched the National Institutes of Health (NIH) databases of patients with MMAD or HLRCC and found at least three other cases with MMAD that had a history of tumors that could be part of HLRCC; among patients with HLRCC, there were several with some adrenal nodularity noted on computed tomography but none with imaging findings consistent with MMAD. From two of the three MMAD patients, adrenocortical tumor DNA was available and sequenced for coding FH mutations; there were none. We conclude that in a patient with HLRCC, adrenal hyperplasia and CS were due to MMAD. The latter was likely due to the FH germline mutation because in tumor cells, only the mutant allele was retained. However, other patients with MMAD and HLRCC, or HLRCC patients with adrenal imaging findings consistent with MMAD, or MMAD patients with somatic FH mutations were not found among the NIH series. Although a fortuitous association cannot be excluded, HLRCC may be added to the short list of monogenic disorders that have been reported to be associated with the development of adrenal tumors; FH may be considered a candidate gene for MMAD.

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