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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Sep;91(9):3316-23. Epub 2006 Jun 20.

Clinical characterization of familial isolated pituitary adenomas.

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Department of Endocrinology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Liège, Domaine Universitaire du Sart Tilman, 4000 Liège, Belgium.



Familial pituitary adenomas occur rarely in the absence of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and Carney complex (CNC).


Our objective was to characterize the clinical and genealogical features of non-MEN1/CNC familial isolated pituitary adenomas (FIPA).


We conducted a retrospective study of clinical and genealogical characteristics of FIPA cases and performed a comparison with a sporadic population at 22 university hospitals in Belgium, Italy, France, and The Netherlands.


Sixty-four FIPA families including 138 affected individuals were identified [55 prolactinomas, 47 somatotropinomas, 28 nonsecreting adenomas (NS), and eight ACTH-secreting tumors]. Cases were MEN1/PRKAR1A-mutation negative. First-degree relationships predominated (75.6%) among affected individuals. A single tumor phenotype occurred in 30 families (homogeneous), and heterogeneous phenotypes occurred in 34 families. FIPA cases were younger at diagnosis than sporadic cases (P = 0.015); tumors were diagnosed earlier in the first vs. the second generation of multigenerational families. Macroadenomas were more frequent in heterogeneous vs. homogeneous FIPA families (P = 0.036). Prolactinomas from heterogeneous families were larger and had more frequent suprasellar extension (P = 0.004) than sporadic cases. Somatotropinomas occurred as isolated familial somatotropinoma cases and within heterogeneous FIPA families; isolated familial somatotropinoma cases represented 18% of FIPA cases and were younger at diagnosis than patients with sporadic somatotropinomas. Familial NS cases were younger at diagnosis (P = 0.03) and had more frequently invasive tumors (P = 0.024) than sporadic cases.


Homogeneous and heterogeneous expression of prolactinomas, somatotropinomas, NS, and Cushing's disease can occur within families in the absence of MEN1/CNC. FIPA and sporadic cases have differing clinical characteristics. FIPA may represent a novel endocrine neoplasia classification that requires further genetic characterization.

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