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HGH, PRL and beta HCG/beta LH gene expression in clinically inactive pituitary adenomas detected by in situ hybridization.

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Department of Pathology, Marienkrankenhaus Hamburg, Federal Republic of Germany.


Within our surgical collection clinically inactive pituitary adenomas represent 30.7% of all pituitary tumours. To characterize their endocrine activity we studied 40 clinically inactive pituitary adenomas with in situ hybridization (ISH) using cRNA probes labelled with 35S encoding growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL) and chorionic gonadotrophin (beta HCG). No tumour was associated with clinical evidence of elevated hormone secretion. A mild hyperprolactinaemia not correlated with hormone or the mRNA content of the cells was interpreted to be incidental in 11 patients. By histological analysis, immunohistochemistry (IH) and electron microscopy the adenomas were diagnosed as small cell chromophobic (n = 16) and large cell chromophobic (n = 8) adenomas, and oncocytomas (n = 16). Gene expression of one or more hormones was identified by ISH in 18 of 40 adenomas in few cells. GH and PRL gene expression was rare (GH mRNA in 3 of 40 tumours and PRL mRNA in 8 of 40 tumours) whereas in 14 of 40 adenomas beta HCG/beta LH gene expression was identified in scattered cells. Five of 40 adenomas lacking hybridization signals revealed hormones by IH. The detection of mRNA was accompanied by positive immunostaining for the respective hormones in 72%. The combination of ISH and IH reveals good evidence that the hormones are synthesized in the tumours and not taken up from the serum and stored in the cells. The two methods used together permit a more precise analysis of tumour biology than each alone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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