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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Oct;85(10):3860-5.

Genetic and histologic studies of somatomammotropic pituitary tumors in patients with the "complex of spotty skin pigmentation, myxomas, endocrine overactivity and schwannomas" (Carney complex).

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Unit on Genetics and Endocrinology, Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1862, USA.


Carney complex (CNC) is a familial multiple neoplasia and lentiginosis syndrome with features overlapping those of McCune-Albright syndrome (MAS) and other multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes, MEN type 1 (MEN 1), in particular. GH-producing pituitary tumors have been described in individual reports and in at least two large CNC patient series. It has been suggested that the evolution of acromegaly in CNC resembles that of the other endocrine manifestations of CNC in its chronic, often indolent, progressive nature. However, histologic and molecular evidence has not been presented in support of this hypothesis. In this investigation, the pituitary glands of eight patients with CNC and acromegaly [age, 22.9+/-11.6 yr (mean +/- SD)] were studied histologically. Tumor DNA was used for comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) (four tumors). All tumors stained for both GH and prolactin PRL (eight of eight), and some for other hormones, including alpha-subunit. Evidence for somatomammotroph hyperplasia was present in five of the eight patients in proximity to adenoma tissue; in the remaining three only adenoma tissue was available for study. CGH showed multiple changes involving losses of chromosomal regions 6q, 7q, 11p, and 11q, and gains of 1pter-p32, 2q35-qter, 9q33-qter, 12q24-qter, 16, 17, 19p, 20p, 20q, 22p and 22q in the most aggressive tumor, an invasive macroadenoma; no chromosomal changes were seen in the microadenomas diagnosed prospectively (3 tumors). We conclude that, in at least some patients with CNC, the pituitary gland is characterized by somatotroph hyperplasia, which precedes GH-producing tumor formation, in a pathway similar to that suggested for MAS-related pituitary tumors. Three GH-producing microadenomas showed no genetic changes by CGH, whereas a macroadenoma in a patient, whose advanced acromegaly was not cured by surgery, showed extensive CGH changes. We speculate that these changes represent secondary and tertiary genetic "hits" involved in pituitary oncogenesis. The data (1) underline the need for early investigation for acromegaly in patients with CNC; (2) provide a molecular hypothesis for its clinical progression; and (3) suggest a model for MAS- and, perhaps, MEN 1-related GH-producing tumor formation.

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