Primary aldosteronism (PA) is a common cause of secondary hypertension. Recent technological advances in genetic analysis have provided a better understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this disease. The application of next-generation sequencing has resulted in the identification of somatic mutations in aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA), a major subtype of PA. Based on the recent findings using a sequencing method that selectively targets the tumor region where aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) is expressed, the vast majority of APAs appear to harbor a somatic mutation in one of the aldosterone-driver genes, including KCNJ5, ATP1A1, ATP2B3, CACNA1D, CACNA1H, and CLCN2. Mutations in these genes alter intracellular ion homeostasis and enhance aldosterone production. In a small subset of APAs, somatic activating mutations in the CTNNB1 gene, which encodes β-catenin, have also been detected. Accumulating evidence suggests that race and sex impact the somatic mutation spectrum of APA. Specifically, somatic mutations in the KCNJ5 gene, encoding an inwardly rectifying K+ channel, are common in APAs from Asian populations as well as women regardless of race. Associations between APA histology, genotype, and patient clinical characteristics have also been proposed, suggesting a potential need to consider race and sex for the management of PA patients. Herein, we review recent findings regarding somatic mutations in APA and discuss potential roles of race and sex on the pathophysiology of APA as well as possible clinical implications.
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Kazutaka Nanba and William E Rainey
Kazutaka Nanba, Kei Omata, Scott A Tomlins, Thomas J Giordano, Gary D Hammer, William E Rainey, and Tobias Else
Co-secretion of cortisol and aldosterone can be observed in adrenal adenomas. The aim of this study was to investigate the molecular characteristics of a co-existing aldosterone- and a cortisol-producing adenoma (CPA) in the same patient.
Design and methods
Two different adenomas within the same adrenal gland from a 49-year-old female patient with primary aldosteronism (PA) and Cushing's syndrome (CS) were studied. Multiple formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor blocks were used for the analysis. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed using a specific antibody against aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2). DNA and RNA were isolated separately from CYP11B2-positive and -negative tumor regions based on CYP11B2 IHC results.
CYP11B2 IHC clearly demonstrated that three pieces from one adenoma were positive for CYP11B2 and the remaining three from the other adenoma were negative for CYP11B2. In quantitative real-time RT-PCR, CYP11B2 mRNA was upregulated in CYP11B2-positive tumor specimens (219-fold vs CYP11B2-negative tumor specimens). Targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) detected novel KCNJ5 gene mutations (p.T148I/T149S, present in the same reads) and a PRKACA gene hotspot mutation (p.L206R) in the CYP11B2-positive and -negative tumors, respectively. Sanger sequencing of DNA from each tumor specimen (CYP11B2-positive tumor, n=3; CYP11B2-negative tumor, n=3) showed concordant results with targeted NGS.
Our findings illustrate the co-existence of two different adrenocortical adenomas causing the concurrent diagnosis of PA and CS in the same patient. Molecular analysis was able to demonstrate that the two diseases resulted from independent somatic mutations seen in double adrenocortical adenomas.
Takuya Kitamura, Amy R Blinder, Kazutaka Nanba, Mika Tsuiki, Mutsuki Mishina, Hiroshi Okuno, Koki Moriyoshi, Yuto Yamazaki, Hironobu Sasano, Keisuke Yoneyama, Aaron M Udager, William E Rainey, Akihiro Yasoda, Noriko Satoh-Asahara, and Tetsuya Tagami
Although excess production of androgens and glucocorticoids has often been observed in adrenocortical carcinomas, adrenocortical adenoma with such hormonal activity is rare. Herein, we report a 41-year-old woman who presented with hyperandrogenemia and mild autonomous cortisol secretion with an undetectable level of adrenocorticotropic hormone. Imaging demonstrated a 6 cm left adrenal tumor. The histologic diagnosis of the resected adrenal tumor was adrenocortical adenoma. Pre- and post-operative serum samples were used for steroid profiling with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). LC-MS/MS analysis of pre-operative serum revealed an abnormal buildup of steroid precursors and androgens. Importantly, circulating levels of 11-oxygenated androgens, including 11β-hydroxytestosterone (11OHT) and 11-ketotestosterone (11KT), were highly elevated. Both androgen and glucocorticoid levels significantly decreased post-operatively. Immunohistochemical analysis of steroidogenic enzymes and cofactor protein supported the tumor’s ability to directly produce 11OHT and 11KT. This study is the first to describe and characterize an adrenocortical adenoma that co-secretes glucocorticoids and 11-oxygenated androgens.
Due to its rarity, biochemical and histologic characteristics of androgen and glucocorticoid co-secreting adrenocortical adenomas are largely unknown. Herein, we report a case of adrenocortical adenoma that caused marked hyperandrogenemia and mild autonomous cortisol secretion. In this study, we investigated serum steroid profiles using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and histologic characteristics of the resected tumor. LC-MS/MS revealed highly elevated levels of 11-oxygenated androgens which have not been well studied in adrenal tumors. The expression patterns of steroidogenic enzymes determined by immunohistochemistry supported the results of steroid profiling and suggested the capacity of the tumor cells to produce 11-oxygenated androgens. Measurement of 11-oxygenated steroids should facilitate a better understanding of androgen-producing adrenocortical neoplasms.