Adrenocorticotropin-producing pituitary carcinoma with expression of c-erbB-2 and high PCNA index: A comparative study with pituitary adenomas and normal pituitary tissues

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Nose-Alberti, V
Mesquita, MIS
Martin, L. C.
Kayath, M. J.
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Pituitary carcinomas are very rare neoplasms with a poor prognosis. We report a case of Cushing's disease resulting from a pituitary carcinoma in a ZZ-yr-old female, who died of massive hepatic failure. At autopsy, there was invasion of the parasellar structures and vasculature by the tumor, which stained positively only for ACTH. There were two metastatic nodules in the liver, which also stained positively for ACTH. When compared to other cases of Cushing's disease (n = 52), other pituitary adenomas (n = 292), and normal pituitary tissues (n = 21), the pituitary carcinoma was the only one with c-erbB-2 membrane staining in both the sellar-located tissue and liver metastasis. C-erbB-2 staining was present in the cytoplasm of a variable number of cells in 40% of the invasive adenomas (n = 103), while only 1.2% of the noninvasive tumors (n = 241) expressed this protein (p < 0.001). No particular immunohistological type preferentially expressed this protein. in normal pituitary tissues, 10% of the cells expressed cytoplasmic c-erbB-2. A higher index of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in the primary tumor and liver metastasis (10%) was also found compared to other ACTH-secreting adenomas (invasive, 3.4 +/- 1.9% vs 1.7 +/- 1.5% in noninvasive) and other pituitary tumors (invasive, 2.9 +/- 1.5% vs 1.5 +/- 1.3% in noninvasive). the PCNA index was significantly higher in invasive tumors than in noninvasive adenomas (p = 0.004). PCNA staining was negative in normal pituitary tissues. Staining for p53, pRB and p(21ras) was negative in the carcinoma and liver metastasis. We suggest that the c-erbB-2 membrane pattern and a higher PCNA index may indicate a worse prognosis in adenohypophyseal neoplasia.
Endocrine Pathology. Totowa: Humana Press Inc, v. 9, n. 1, p. 53-62, 1998.