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Prog Brain Res. 2010;182:343-73. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(10)82015-1.

Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Cancer Research Center, AR, USA.


Pheochromocytoma is a very special kind of tumor full of duplicity. On the one hand it represents its own microworld with unique clinical, biochemical and pathological features, while on the other it constitutes a tremendously significant part of whole body system, playing a vital role for practically every organ system. It has a very special character - sometimes like a child it can be sweet and predictable, while at times it can behave like a deadly wild beast, crashing and tearing everything on its path in a fierce rage. It also consists of the amazingly intelligent neuroendocrine cells that possess a magical ability to make miraculous substances of many kinds. But most of all, it is a system that is able to drive our curiosity and the itch of "Cogito, ergo sum" to limitless depths and year by year it still amazes us with new and unexpected discoveries that move our understanding of multiple pathways and metabolic events closer to the ultimate truth. Recent discoveries of succinate dehydrogenase (SHD) and prolyl hydroxylase (PHD) mutations, for example, propelled our understanding of neuroendocrine tumorigenesis as a whole, as well as physiology of mitochondrial respiratory chain and phenomenon of pseudohypoxia in particular. Good old discoveries make their way from dusty repositories to shine with new meaning, appropriate for the current level of knowledge. This acquired wisdom makes us better physicians - knowing the specific expression makeup of catecholamine transporters, GLUTs and SRIFs allows for better tailored imaging and therapeutic manipulations. There are still long ways to go, keeping in mind that pheochromocytoma is but so very special, and we are optimistic and expect many great things to come.

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