Pathobiologic study of pituitary tumors: Report of 62 cases with a review of the recent literature

Venkata R. Challa, Richard B. Marshall, Marbry B. Hopkins, David L. Kelly, Francisco Civantos

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15 Scopus citations


Advances in radioimmunoassay procedures, immunocytochemistry, neuroradiologic imaging, and the surgical and medical treatment of pituitary adenomas have led to reappraisal of their classification as well as refinements in the diagnostic approaches used by pathologists. Sixty-two pituitary adenomas are described, and recent advances in this field are reviwed. Most of the patients were adults, but one of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing adenomas occurred in an 11-month-old infant. Endocrine-inactive tumors (43.5 per cent) were less common than hormone-producing tumors (56.5 per cent). Local invasion was most common in the former group, followed by ACTH-producing and other hormone-producing tumors. Ultrastructural features correlated with hormonal levels in the growth hormone(GH)-secreting tumors but not in the prolactin(LTH)-or ACTH-producing tumors. The formation of 7-nm filaments in the cytoplasm of tumor cells, corresponding to Crooke's hyaline change on light microscopy, was characteristic of ACTH-producing tumors. Ultrastructurally changes in the ACTH granules suggested that the filaments may be derived from the feedback action of cortisol. Prior to surgery, a Rathke's cleft cyst and a chordoma were mistaken for endocrine-inactive pituitary adenomas. In two additional cases ectopic ACTH-producing tumors of lung clinically mimicked pituitary adenoma. Conversely, one pituitary adenoma mimicked sphenoid wing meningioma. Clinical, hormonal, and radiologic data and immunocytochemical and electron microscopic studies are needed for accurate pathologic interpretation and classification of pituitary adenomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-884
Number of pages12
JournalHuman pathology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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