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A.-L. Hulting, B. Tribukait, G. Bergstrand and S. Werner

Abstract. The DNA contents of 33 pituitary adenomas from patients with acromegaly were analysed with flowcytofluorometry. Degrees of ploidy and the proliferation rate, expressed as percentage of cells in S-phase, were determined. The aim was to compare these morphological and functional tumour properties with clinical and laboratory parameters to establish a possible relation and to further elucidate the characteristics of these tumours.

In 15 tumours (45%) diploid DNA pattern were found, while 18 (55%) showed varying degrees of aneuploidy. The frequency of cells in S-phase showed wide variations and were equally distributed in diploid and aneuploid tumours. Duration of symptoms, age at diagnosis, preoperative growth hormone (GH)- and prolactin (Prl)-levels, tumour size and grade of invasive tumour growth as determined by radiological estimations, did not correlate to ploidy or grade of proliferation.

The lack of correlation between DNA pattern and proliferation rate in relation to clinical, laboratory and radiological parameters in tumours causing acromegaly contrasts to the documented relation between the degree of ploidy, cells in proliferation and grade of malignancy reported in tumours of other sites. The 55% aneuploid GH producing tumours indicate a certain malignant transformation. The high frequency of cells in S-phase in several GH secreting tumours completes the malignant morphological and functional cell properties. The benign character of tumours causing acromegaly is therefore in contrast to these findings.

The lack of clinical significance of the DNA pattern and the frequency of cells in proliferation in GH producing tumours and the benign character despite malignant cell properties in most of these tumours are difficult to explain. The possibility of unknown factors regulating growth rate, invasiveness and the lack of metastazation in tumours causing acromegaly cannot be excluded.

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A. L. Hulting, U. Askensten, B. Tribukait, J. Wersäll, G. Auer, L. Grimelius, S. Falkmer and S. Werner


DNA patterns were analysed in 26 GH-producing pituitary adenomas by flow cytometry as well as by microspectrophotometry. Twelve tumours (46%) were diploid according to both methods, whereas 5 tumours (19%) showed aneuploid DNA patterns. Nine tumours were classified differently by the two methods: flow cytometry resulted in diploidy in 2 and aneuploidy in 7 patients, whereas microspectrophotometry showed diploidy in 5 tumours, tetraploidy in 3 and aneuploidy in 1. Methodological limitations may explain the discrepancy in the results obtained by the two methods. However, both the flow cytometry and the microspectrophotometry method show the presence of aneuploid DNA patterns in GH-producing pituitary adenomas despite their benign growth characteristics and the clinically benign course of the disease. This comparative study with two methods measuring DNA content, shows that depending on the criteria used for diploidy-aneuploidy, the freqency of aneuploidy will vary. In this material of 26 GH-producing adenomas, 46% were aneuploid according to flow cytometry and 23% according to microspectrophotometric. However, no correlation to tumour size or GH levels was found with either method when patients with aneuploid and diploid tumours were compared. Therefore, no clinial significance can so far be drawn from these results.