Adrenal phaechromocytomas and extra-adrenal sympathetic paragangliomas (PPGLs) are rare neuroendocrine tumours, characterised by production of the catecholamines: noradrenaline, adrenaline and dopamine. Tumoural secretion of catecholamines determines their clinical presentation which is highly variable among patients. Up to 10–15% of patients present entirely asymptomatic and in 5% of all adrenal incidentalomas a PPGL is found. Therefore, prompt diagnosis of PPGL remains a challenge for every clinician. Early consideration of the presence of a PPGL is of utmost importance, because missing the diagnosis can be devastating due to potential lethal cardiovascular complications of disease. First step in diagnosis is proper biochemical analysis to confirm or refute the presence of excess production of catecholamines or their metabolites. Biochemical testing is not only indicated in symptomatic patients but also in asymptomatic patients with adrenal incidentalomas or identified genetic predispositions. Measurements of metanephrines in plasma or urine offer the best diagnostic performance and are the tests of first choice. Paying attention to sampling conditions, patient preparation and use of interfering medications is important, as these factors can largely influence test results. When initial test results are inconclusive, additional tests can be performed, such as the clonidine suppression test. Test results can also be used for estimation of tumour size or prediction of tumour location and underlying genotype. Furthermore, tumoural production of 3-methoxytyramine is associated with presence of an underlying SDHB mutation and may be a biomarker of malignancy.
A van Berkel, J W M Lenders, and H J L M Timmers
Christina Pamporaki, Michael Bursztyn, Manja Reimann, Tjalf Ziemssen, Stefan R Bornstein, Fred C G J Sweep, Henri Timmers, Jacques W M Lenders, and Graeme Eisenhofer
Higher plasma concentrations of catecholamines in winter than in summer are established; whether this impacts plasma concentrations of metanephrines used for the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma is unknown.
In this study, we examined seasonal variations in plasma concentrations of metanephrines, the impact of this on diagnostic test performance and the influences of forearm warming (‘arterialization’ of venous blood) on blood flow and measured concentrations.
Measurements of plasma concentrations of metanephrines were recorded from 4052 patients tested for pheochromocytoma at two clinical centers. Among these patients, 107 had tumors. An additional 26 volunteers were enrolled for measurements of plasma metanephrines and forearm blood flow before and after forearm warming.
There was no seasonal variation in the plasma concentrations of metanephrines among patients with pheochromocytoma, whereas among those without tumors, plasma concentrations of normetanephrine were higher (P<0.0001) in winter than in summer. Lowest concentrations of normetanephrine were measured in July, with those recorded from December to April being more than 21% higher (P<0.0001). These differences resulted in a twofold higher (P=0.0012) prevalence of false-positive elevations of normetanephrine concentrations in winter than in summer, associated with a drop in overall diagnostic specificity from 96% in summer to 92% in winter (P=0.0010). Forearm warming increased blood flow and lowered (P=0.0020) plasma normetanephrine concentrations.
Plasma concentrations of normetanephrine are subject to seasonal variation with a resulting higher prevalence of false-positive results in winter than in summer. Lowered plasma concentrations of normetanephrine with forearm warming suggest an effect of temperature. These results have implications for considerations of temperature to minimize false-positive results.
P F Plouin, L Amar, O M Dekkers, M Fassnacht, A P Gimenez-Roqueplo, J W M Lenders, C Lussey-Lepoutre, O Steichen, and on behalf of the Guideline Working Group
Phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) are rare neuroendocrine tumours. Standard treatment is surgical resection. Following complete resection of the primary tumour, patients with PPGL are at risk of developing new tumoural events. The present guideline aims to propose standardised clinical care of long-term follow-up in patients operated on for a PPGL. The guideline has been developed by The European Society of Endocrinology and based on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) principles. We performed a systematic review of the literature and analysed the European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumours (ENS@T) database. The risk of new events persisted in the long term and was higher for patients with genetic or syndromic diseases. Follow-up in the published cohorts and in the ENS@T database was neither standardised nor exhaustive, resulting in a risk of follow-up bias and in low statistical power beyond 10 years after complete surgery. To inform patients and care providers in this context of low-quality evidence, the Guideline Working Group therefore prepared recommendations on the basis of expert consensus. Key recommendations are the following: we recommend that all patients with PPGL be considered for genetic testing; we recommend assaying plasma or urinary metanephrines every year to screen for local or metastatic recurrences or new tumours; and we suggest follow-up for at least 10 years in all patients operated on for a PPGL. High-risk patients (young patients and those with a genetic disease, a large tumour and/or a paraganglioma) should be offered lifelong annual follow-up.
Dipti Rao, Mirko Peitzsch, Aleksander Prejbisz, Katarzyna Hanus, Martin Fassnacht, Felix Beuschlein, Christina Brugger, Stephanie Fliedner, Katharina Langton, Christina Pamporaki, Volker Gudziol, Anthony Stell, Andrzej Januszewicz, Henri J L M Timmers, Jacques W M Lenders, and Graeme Eisenhofer
Measurements of plasma methoxytyramine, the O-methylated dopamine metabolite, are useful for detecting rare dopamine-producing pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) and head and neck paragangliomas (HNPGLs), but utility for screening beyond that achieved using standard measurements of normetanephrine and metanephrine is unclear.
Evaluation of the additional utility of methoxytyramine compared to plasma normetanephrine and metanephrine for diagnosis of PPGLs and HNPGLs.
Comparative prospective study.
Comparison of mass spectrometric-based measurements of plasma methoxytyramine, normetanephrine and metanephrine in 1963 patients tested for PPGLs at six tertiary medical centers according to reference intervals verified in 423 normotensive and hypertensive volunteers.
Of the screened patients, 213 had PPGLs and 38 HNPGLs. Using an upper cut-off of 0.10 nmol/L for methoxytyramine, 0.45 nmol/L for metanephrine and age-specific upper cut-offs for normetanephrine, diagnostic sensitivity with the addition of methoxytyramine increased from 97.2% to 98.6% for patients with PPGLs and from 22.1% to 50.0% for patients with HNPGLs, with a small decrease in specificity from 95.9% to 95.1%. Addition of methoxytyramine did not significantly alter areas under receiver operating characteristic curves for patients with PPGLs (0.984 vs 0.991), but did increase (P < 0.05) areas for patients with HNPGLs (0.627 vs 0.801). Addition of methoxytyramine also increased the proportion of patients with PPGLs who showed highly positive predictive elevations of multiple metabolites (70.9% vs 49.3%).
While the benefit of additional measurements of plasma methoxytyramine for the detection of PPGLs is modest, the measurements do assist with positive confirmation of disease and are useful for the detection of HNPGLs.
Mariko Sue, Victoria Martucci, Florina Frey, Jacques W M Lenders, Henri J Timmers, Mariola Pęczkowska, Aleksander Prejbisz, Brede Swantje, Stefan R Bornstein, Wiebke Arlt, Martin Fassnacht, Felix Beuschlein, Mercedes Robledo, Karel Pacak, and Graeme Eisenhofer
Testing for succinate dehydrogenase subunit B (SDHB) mutations is recommended in all patients with metastatic phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs), but may not be required when metastatic disease is accompanied by adrenaline production. This retrospective cohort study aimed to establish the prevalence of SDHB mutations among patients with metastatic PPGLs, characterised by production of adrenaline compared with those without production of adrenaline, and to establish genotype–phenotype features of metastatic PPGLs according to underlying gene mutations.
Design and methods
Presence of SDHB mutations or deletions was tested in 205 patients (114 males) aged 42±16 years (range 9–86 years) at diagnosis of metastatic PPGLs with and without adrenaline production.
Twenty-three of the 205 patients (11%) with metastatic PPGLs had disease characterised by production of adrenaline, as defined by increased plasma concentrations of metanephrine larger than 5% of the combined increase in both normetanephrine and metanephrine. None of these 23 patients had SDHB mutations. Of the other 182 patients with no tumoural adrenaline production, 51% had SDHB mutations. Metastases in bone were 36–41% more prevalent among patients with SDHB mutations or extra-adrenal primary tumours than those without mutations or with adrenal primary tumours. Liver metastases were 81% more prevalent among patients with adrenal than extra-adrenal primary tumours.
SDHB mutation testing has no utility among patients with adrenaline-producing metastatic PPGLs, but is indicated in other patients with metastatic disease. Our study also reveals novel associations of metastatic spread with primary tumour location and presence of SDHB mutations.
Annika M A Berends, Edward Buitenwerf, Ineke J Riphagen, Jacques W M Lenders, Henri J L M Timmers, Schelto Kruijff, Thera P Links, Anouk N A van der Horst-Schrivers, Coen A Stegeman, Elisabeth M W Eekhoff, Richard A Feelders, Eleonora P M Corssmit, Ronald Groote Veldman, Harm R Haak, Anneke C Muller Kobold, and Michiel N Kerstens
Despite adequate presurgical management, blood pressure fluctuations are common during resection of pheochromocytoma or sympathetic paraganglioma (PPGL). To a large extent, the variability in blood pressure control during PPGL resection remains unexplained. Adrenomedullin and B-type natriuretic peptide, measured as MR-proADM and NT-proBNP, respectively, are circulating biomarkers of cardiovascular dysfunction. We investigated whether plasma levels of MR-proADM and NT-proBNP are associated with blood pressure fluctuations during PPGL resection.
Study subjects participated in PRESCRIPT, a randomized controlled trial in patients undergoing PPGL resection. MR-proADM and NT-proBNP were determined in a single plasma sample drawn before surgery. Multivariable linear and logistic regression analyses were used to explore associations between these biomarkers and blood pressure fluctuations, use of vasoconstrictive agents during surgery as well as the occurrence of perioperative cardiovascular events.
A total of 126 PPGL patients were included. Median plasma concentrations of MR-proADM and NT-proBNP were 0.51 (0.41–0.63) nmol/L and 68.7 (27.9–150.4) ng/L, respectively. Neither MR-proADM nor NT-proBNP were associated with blood pressure fluctuations. There was a positive correlation between MR-proADM concentration and the cumulative dose of vasoconstrictive agents (03B2 0.44, P =0.001). Both MR-proADM and NT-proBNP were significantly associated with perioperative cardiovascular events (OR: 5.46, P =0.013 and OR: 1.54, P =0.017, respectively).
plasma MR-proADM or NT-proBNP should not be considered as biomarkers for the presurgical risk assessment of blood pressure fluctuations during PPGL resection. Future studies are needed to explore the potential influence of these biomarkers on the intraoperative requirement of vasoconstrictive agents and the perioperative cardiovascular risk.
Aikaterini Geroula, Timo Deutschbein, Katharina Langton, Jimmy Masjkur, Christina Pamporaki, Mirko Peitzsch, Stephanie Fliedner, Henri J L M Timmers, Stefan R Bornstein, Felix Beuschlein, Anthony Stell, Andrzej Januszewicz, Aleksander Prejbisz, Martin Fassnacht, Jacques W M Lenders, and Graeme Eisenhofer
Hypertension and symptoms of catecholamine excess are features of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs). This prospective observational cohort study assessed whether differences in presenting features in patients tested for PPGLs might assist establishing likelihood of disease.
Design and methods
Patients were tested for PPGLs because of signs and symptoms, an incidental mass on imaging or routine surveillance due to previous history or hereditary risk. Patients with (n = 245) compared to without (n = 1820) PPGLs were identified on follow-up. Differences in presenting features were then examined to assess the probability of disease and relationships to catecholamine excess.
Hyperhidrosis, palpitations, pallor, tremor and nausea were 30–90% more prevalent (P < 0.001) among patients with than without PPGLs, whereas headache, flushing and other symptoms showed little or no differences. Although heart rates were higher (P < 0.0001) in patients with than without PPGLs, blood pressures were not higher and were positively correlated to BMI, which was lower (P < 0.0001) in patients with than without PPGLs. From these differences in clinical features, a score system was established that indicated a 5.8-fold higher probability of PPGLs in patients with high than low scores. Higher scores among patients with PPGLs were associated, independently of tumor size, with higher biochemical indices of catecholamine excess.
This study identifies a complex of five signs and symptoms combined with lower BMI and elevated heart rate as key features in patients with PPGLs. Prevalences of these features, which reflect variable tumoral catecholamine production, may be used to triage patients according to likelihood of disease.