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Martin Fassnacht, Olaf M Dekkers, Tobias Else, Eric Baudin, Alfredo Berruti, Ronald R de Krijger, Harm R Haak, Radu Mihai, Guillaume Assie and Massimo Terzolo

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and in most cases steroid hormone-producing tumor with variable prognosis. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide clinicians with best possible evidence-based recommendations for clinical management of patients with ACC based on the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system. We predefined four main clinical questions, which we judged as particularly important for the management of ACC patients and performed systematic literature searches: (A) What is needed to diagnose an ACC by histopathology? (B) Which are the best prognostic markers in ACC? (C) Is adjuvant therapy able to prevent recurrent disease or reduce mortality after radical resection? (D) What is the best treatment option for macroscopically incompletely resected, recurrent or metastatic disease? Other relevant questions were discussed within the group. Selected Recommendations: (i) We recommend that all patients with suspected and proven ACC are discussed in a multidisciplinary expert team meeting. (ii) We recommend that every patient with (suspected) ACC should undergo careful clinical assessment, detailed endocrine work-up to identify autonomous hormone excess and adrenal-focused imaging. (iii) We recommend that adrenal surgery for (suspected) ACC should be performed only by surgeons experienced in adrenal and oncological surgery aiming at a complete en bloc resection (including resection of oligo-metastatic disease). (iv) We suggest that all suspected ACC should be reviewed by an expert adrenal pathologist using the Weiss score and providing Ki67 index. (v) We suggest adjuvant mitotane treatment in patients after radical surgery that have a perceived high risk of recurrence (ENSAT stage III, or R1 resection, or Ki67 >10%). (vi) For advanced ACC not amenable to complete surgical resection, local therapeutic measures (e.g. radiation therapy, radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization) are of particular value. However, we suggest against the routine use of adrenal surgery in case of widespread metastatic disease. In these patients, we recommend either mitotane monotherapy or mitotane, etoposide, doxorubicin and cisplatin depending on prognostic parameters. In selected patients with a good response, surgery may be subsequently considered. (vii) In patients with recurrent disease and a disease-free interval of at least 12 months, in whom a complete resection/ablation seems feasible, we recommend surgery or alternatively other local therapies. Furthermore, we offer detailed recommendations about the management of mitotane treatment and other supportive therapies. Finally, we suggest directions for future research.

Free access

Johannes Hofland, Wouter W de Herder, Lieke Derks, Leo J Hofland, Peter M van Koetsveld, Ronald R de Krijger, Francien H van Nederveen, Anelia Horvath, Constantine A Stratakis, Frank H de Jong and Richard A Feelders


Primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease (PPNAD) can lead to steroid hormone overproduction. Mutations in the cAMP protein kinase A regulatory subunit type 1A (PRKAR1A) are causative of PPNAD. Steroidogenesis in PPNAD can be modified through a local glucocorticoid feed-forward loop.


Investigation of regulation of steroidogenesis in a case of PPNAD with virilization.

Materials and methods

A 33-year-old woman presented with primary infertility due to hyperandrogenism. Elevated levels of testosterone and subclinical ACTH-independent Cushing's syndrome led to the discovery of an adrenal tumor, which was diagnosed as PPNAD. In vivo evaluation of aberrantly expressed hormone receptors showed no steroid response to known stimuli. Genetic analysis revealed a PRKAR1A protein-truncating Q28X mutation. After adrenalectomy, steroid levels normalized. Tumor cells were cultured and steroidogenic responses to ACTH and dexamethasone were measured and compared with those in normal adrenal and adrenocortical carcinoma cells. Expression levels of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) types 3 and 5 and steroid receptors were quantified in PPNAD, normal adrenal, and adrenal adenoma tissues.


Isolated PPNAD cells, analogous to normal adrenal cells, showed both increased steroidogenic enzyme expression and steroid secretion in response to ACTH. Dexamethasone did not affect steroid production in the investigated types of adrenal cells. 17β-HSD type 5 was expressed at a higher level in the PPNAD-associated adenoma compared with control adrenal tissue.


PPNAD-associated adenomas can cause virilization and infertility by adrenal androgen overproduction. This may be due to steroidogenic control mechanisms that differ from those described for PPNAD without large adenomas.

Free access

Ilse G C Hermsen, Harm R Haak, Ronald R de Krijger, Thomas M A Kerkhofs, Richard A Feelders, Wouter W de Herder, Hanneke Wilmink, Jan W A Smit, Hans Gelderblom, Noel F C C de Miranda, Ronald van Eijk, Tom van Wezel and Hans Morreau


Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare disease with a poor prognosis and limited therapeutic options. Mitotane is considered the standard first-line therapy with only 30% of the patients showing objective tumour response. Defining predictive factors for response is therefore of clinical importance.

 The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has been implicated in the development of one-third of all malignancies. EGFR pathway members in ACC have been investigated, however, without available clinical data and relation to survival.


In this study, mutation status of EGFR and downstream signalling pathways was evaluated in 47 ACC patients on mitotane using direct sequencing, a TaqMan allele-specific assay and immunohistochemistry. Archival formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumour tissue was used for all analyses. Patient data were obtained anonymously, after coupling with the collected tumour tissue.


One BRAF, two EGFR TK domain (c.2590G>A, p.864A>T) and 11 T P53, but no PIK3CA or KRAS, mutations were found. No relationship was found between mutation status, immunostaining and mitotane response or survival.


In conclusion, our data suggest that the role of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in ACC is limited. Treatment with EGFR monoclonal antibodies on the other hand might be beneficial for a larger group of patients. The possible efficacy of this therapy in ACC should be evaluated in future trials.

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Annika M A Berends, Michiel N Kerstens, Janne W Bolt, Thera P Links, Esther Korpershoek, Ronald R de Krijger, Annemiek M E Walenkamp, Walter Noordzij, Boudewijn van Etten, Gursah Kats-Ugurlu, Adrienne H Brouwers and Anouk N A van der Horst-Schrivers


PET with 6-[18F]fluor-l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (18F-FDOPA) has been shown to be a useful imaging tool with a high sensitivity for the visualization of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). 18F-FDOPA uptake in tumors other than NETs has been suggested previously, but data on this phenomenon are limited. We therefore studied the non-physiological, false-positive uptake of 18F-FDOPA in a large population of patients with a NET or with a high clinical suspicion of harboring a NET.

Patients and methods

Retrospective single-center study among adult patients in whom 18F-FDOPA PET scintigraphy was performed between January 2004 and December 2014. The original scan report was compared with the original pathology report corresponding with the 18F-FDOPA PET-positive lesion. In case this was inconsistent with the diagnosis of a NET, both the scan and the pathology slides were reassessed. Specimens of these non-NET tissues were immunohistochemically stained for AADC.


1070 18F-FDOPA PET scans from 705 patients were evaluated. Focal or multiple 18F-FDOPA-avid lesions were described in 709 18F-FDOPA PET scans (66%). Histology of these 18F-FDOPA PET-positive lesions was present in 508 (72%) cases. In seven cases, the histopathology was not compatible with NET but showed squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix, multiple myeloma (two cases), hepatocellular carcinoma, Schwannoma, adrenocortical carcinoma and a skeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma, with positive immunohistochemical staining for AADC in 67%.


Pathological uptake of 18F-FDOPA does not always indicate the presence of a NET. The possibility of 18F-FDOPA uptake by tumor types other than NETs, although rare, should be considered.

Free access

Thomas G Papathomas, Jose Gaal, Eleonora P M Corssmit, Lindsey Oudijk, Esther Korpershoek, Ketil Heimdal, Jean-Pierre Bayley, Hans Morreau, Marieke van Dooren, Konstantinos Papaspyrou, Thomas Schreiner, Torsten Hansen, Per Arne Andresen, David F Restuccia, Ingrid van Kessel, Geert J L H van Leenders, Johan M Kros, Leendert H J Looijenga, Leo J Hofland, Wolf Mann, Francien H van Nederveen, Ozgur Mete, Sylvia L Asa, Ronald R de Krijger and Winand N M Dinjens


Although the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH)-related tumor spectrum has been recently expanded, there are only rare reports of non-pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma tumors in SDHx-mutated patients. Therefore, questions still remain unresolved concerning the aforementioned tumors with regard to their pathogenesis, clinicopathological phenotype, and even causal relatedness to SDHx mutations. Absence of SDHB expression in tumors derived from tissues susceptible to SDH deficiency is not fully elucidated.

Design and methods

Three unrelated SDHD patients, two with pituitary adenoma (PA) and one with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), and three SDHB patients affected by renal cell carcinomas (RCCs) were identified from four European centers. SDHA/SDHB immunohistochemistry (IHC), SDHx mutation analysis, and loss of heterozygosity analysis of the involved SDHx gene were performed on all tumors. A cohort of 348 tumors of unknown SDHx mutational status, including renal tumors, PTCs, PAs, neuroblastic tumors, seminomas, and adenomatoid tumors, was investigated by SDHB IHC.


Of the six index patients, all RCCs and one PA displayed SDHB immunonegativity in contrast to the other PA and PTC. All immunonegative tumors demonstrated loss of the WT allele, indicating bi-allelic inactivation of the germline mutated gene. Of 348 tumors, one clear cell RCC exhibited partial loss of SDHB expression.


These findings strengthen the etiological association of SDHx genes with pituitary neoplasia and provide evidence against a link between PTC and SDHx mutations. Somatic deletions seem to constitute the second hit in SDHB-related renal neoplasia, while SDHx alterations do not appear to be primary drivers in sporadic tumorigenesis from tissues affected by SDH deficiency.