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Tao Wang, Fumitoshi Satoh, Ryo Morimoto, Yasuhiro Nakamura, Hironobu Sasano, Richard J Auchus, Michael A Edwards, and William E Rainey


Primary aldosteronism (PA) is the most common form of endocrine hypertension affecting ∼8–10% of hypertensive subjects. Aldosterone production in PA occurs under low-renin conditions, and the mechanisms that maintain the production of aldosterone in PA remain unknown.


This study was designed to compare the transcript profiles between aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA) and their adjacent adrenal gland (AAG) from the same adrenal.


Total RNA was extracted from ten APA and ten AAG; and subsequently analyzed by microarray and real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qPCR). The microarray data were paired for each APA–AAG, and analyzed by GeneSpring GX 11 with paired t-test and fold change calculations for each transcript. Changes identified by microarray analysis were confirmed by qPCR.


Microarray analysis indicated that 14 genes had significantly up-regulated expression in APA compared to AAG. Among the elevated genes were aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) as well as novel transcription factors, calmodulin-binding proteins, and other genes that have not been previously studied in APA. Selective analysis of 11 steroidogenic enzymes using microarray demonstrated that only CYP11B2 showed a significantly higher transcript level in APA compared to AAG (P<0.001). In contrast, AKR1C3 (17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 5), CYP17 (17α-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase), and CYB5 (cytochrome b5) showed significantly lower transcript level in APA (P<0.05).


The transcriptome analysis of APA compared with AAG showed several novel genes that are associated with APA phenotype. This gene list provides new candidates for the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms leading to PA.

Free access

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.

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Adina F Turcu, Aya T Nanba, Robert Chomic, Sunil K Upadhyay, Thomas J Giordano, James J Shields, Deborah P Merke, William E Rainey, and Richard J Auchus



To comprehensively characterize androgens and androgen precursors in classic 21-hydroxylase deficiency (21OHD) and to gain insights into the mechanisms of their formation.


Serum samples were obtained from 38 patients (19 men) with classic 21OHD, aged 3–59, and 38 sex- and age-matched controls; 3 patients with 11β-hydroxylase deficiency; 4 patients with adrenal insufficiency; and 16 patients (8 men) undergoing adrenal vein sampling. Paraffin-embedded normal (n = 5) and 21OHD adrenal tissues (n = 3) were used for immunohistochemical studies.


We measured 11 steroids in all sera by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Immunofluroescence localized 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (HSD3B2) and cytochrome b5 (CYB5A) within the normal and 21OHD adrenals.


Four 11-oxygenated 19-carbon (11oxC19) steroids were significantly higher in male and female 21OHD patients than in controls: 11β-hydroxyandrostenedione, 11-ketoandrostenedione 11β-hydroxytestosterone, and 11-ketotestosterone (3–4-fold, P < 0.0001). For 21OHD patients, testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone were positively correlated in females, but inversely correlated in males. All 11oxC19 steroids were higher in the adrenal vein than in the inferior vena cava samples from men and women and rose with cosyntropin stimulation. Only trace amounts of 11oxC19 steroids were found in the sera of patients with 11β-hydroxylase deficiency and adrenal insufficiency, confirming their adrenal origin. HSD3B2 and CYB5A immunoreactivities were sharply segregated in the normal adrenal glands, whereas areas of overlapping expression were identified in the 21OHD adrenals.


All four 11oxC19 steroids are elevated in both men and women with classic 21OHD. Our data suggest that 11oxC19 steroids are specific biomarkers of adrenal-derived androgen excess.

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Martin Reincke, Adriana Albani, Guillaume Assie, Irina Bancos, Thierry Brue, Michael Buchfelder, Olivier Chabre, Filippo Ceccato, Andrea Daniele, Mario Detomas, Guido Di Dalmazi, Atanaska Elenkova, James Findling, Ashley B. Grossman, Celso E Gomez-Sanchez, Anthony P Heaney, Juergen Honegger, Niki Karavitaki, Andre Lacroix, Edward R Laws, Marco Losa, Masanori Murakami, John Newell-Price, Francesca Pecori Giraldi, Luis G. Pérez‐Rivas, Rosario Pivonello, William E Rainey, Silviu Sbiera, Jochen Schopohl, Constantine A Stratakis, Marily Theodoropoulou, Elisabeth F.C. van Rossum, Elena Valassi, Sabina Zacharieva, German Rubinstein, and Katrin Ritzel

BACKGROUND: Corticotroph tumor progression (CTP) leading to Nelson’s syndrome (NS) is a severe and difficult-to-treat complication subsequent to bilateral adrenalectomy (BADX) for Cushing’s disease. Its characteristics are not well described, and consensus recommendations for diagnosis and treatment are missing.

METHODS: A systematic literature search was performed focusing on clinical studies and case series (≥5 patients). Definition, incidence, treatment and long-term outcomes of CTP/NS after BADX were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The results were presented and discussed at an interdisciplinary consensus workshop attended by international pituitary experts in Munich on October 28th, 2018.

RESULTS: Data covered definition and incidence (34 studies, 1275 patients), surgical outcome (12 studies, 187 patients), outcome of radiation therapy (21 studies, 273 patients), and medical therapy (15 studies, 72 patients).

CONCLUSIONS: We endorse the definition of CTP-BADX/NS as radiological progression or new detection of a pituitary tumor on thin-section MRI. We recommend surveillance by MRI after 3 months and every 12 months for the first 3 years after BADX. Subsequently, we suggest clinical evaluation every 12 months and MRI at increasing intervals every 2-4 years (depending on ACTH and clinical parameters). We recommend pituitary surgery as first-line therapy in patients with CTP-BADX/NS. Surgery should be performed before extrasellar expansion of the tumor to obtain complete and long-term remission. Conventional radiotherapy or stereotactic radiosurgery should be utilized as second-line treatment for remnant tumor tissue showing extrasellar extension.