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Vet Pathol. 2018 Dec 30:300985818819174. doi: 10.1177/0300985818819174. [Epub ahead of print]

Pheochromocytoma in Dogs Undergoing Adrenalectomy.

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1 Clinic for Small Animal Internal Medicine, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
2 Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, University of Padova, Legnaro, Italy.
3 Istituto Veterinario di Novara, Granozzo con Monticello NO, Italy.
4 Clinica Veterinaria Nervianese, Nerviano MI, Italy.
5 Centro Specialistico Veterinario, Milano, Italy.
6 Daniel Koch Small Animal Surgery Referrals, Diessenhofen, Switzerland.
7 Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Sciences, University of Padova, Legnaro PD, Italy.


Pheochromocytoma is frequent in dogs and carries a guarded prognosis. Current histological criteria may not predict malignant behavior in dogs, similar to humans. In humans, characterization of tumors has been refined using the pheochromocytoma of the adrenal gland scaled score (PASS) and by immunohistochemistry. The study aim was to investigate PASS and immunohistochemical markers used in humans in 24 dogs with pheochromocytoma that underwent adrenalectomy. Dogs with pheochromocytomas were reviewed and tumors collected. Histological sections were evaluated to apply the PASS and were single-labeled for chromogranin A, Ki-67, COX-2, p53, BCL-2, c-erbB-2, vascular endothelial growth factor, and S100. Survival, age, and vascular and capsular invasion were compared for PASS and immunohistochemical markers; results of PASS were also compared for each marker. Associations between markers were tested. PASS and immunohistochemical markers did not differ for survival, age, and vascular and capsular invasion. Tumors showing BCL-2 expression in >50% cells had lower PASS than those with lower expression (PASS: 7 ± 2 vs 9 ± 2; P = .011). Tumors positive for S100 had higher PASS than those that were negative (PASS: 10 ± 2 vs 7 ± 2; P = .001). Results of the different markers were not associated. In conclusion, in the context of canine pheochromocytoma, PASS and the selected immunohistochemical markers are not associated with survival, age, or vascular or capsular invasion. The higher PASS in S100-positive tumors may indicate that pheochromocytomas developing morphologic changes acquire S100 expression. The significance of lower PASS in tumors with elevated BCL-2 expression is uncertain. Overall, the use of PASS and the present immunohistochemical markers may not be useful in dogs with pheochromocytoma.


adrenal glands; dogs; immunohistochemistry; neoplasms; pheochromocytoma; scoring method; sustentacular cells


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