A 41-year-old male presented with progressive visual defects, acromegaly and hyperthyroidism. After clinical evaluation a giant GH/TSH-secreting pituitary adenoma was diagnosed. Administration of the somatostatin analog octreotide at doses of 150 microg s.c. per day inhibited the secretion of both GH and TSH. A three-week treatment with octreotide prior to surgery led to slight visual improvement and CT scan showed some new necrotic areas within the tumor mass. Transcranial surgery was performed. By immunohistochemical analyses of the adenoma tissue GH, prolactin and beta-chorionic gonadotropin were detected; TSH was negative. Electron microscopy revealed an undifferentiated, monomorphous adenoma with morphological features of an acidophil stem cell adenoma such as the presence of misplaced exocytoses, fibrous bodies and mitochondrial gigantism. However, the tumor cells contained small secretory granules (up to 250 nm) accumulated along the cell membrane characteristic of thyrotrope cells. Furthermore, some adenoma cells were fusiform with long cytoplasmic processes resembling thyrotropes. Two months after the operation CT scan revealed a large residual tumor. Serum GH and TSH levels had increased again and the TSH level was even higher than before the treatment. The patient died suddenly, most probably of lethal arrhythmia. Specimens of the adenoma tissue obtained at autopsy confirmed the previous findings with the exception of positive immunostaining for TSH which was found in less than 1% of the adenoma cells. This undifferentiated, monomorphous GH/TSH-secreting pituitary adenoma represents an entity that is unusual both in its ultrastructural features and clinical manifestations suggesting a cytogenesis from an early, undifferentiated stem cell.
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