A study of the correlation between morphological findings and biological activities in clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas

Neurosurgery. 2007 Sep;61(3):580-4; discussion 584-5. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000290906.53685.79.


Objective: The aims of this study are to review the histology of the clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (CNFPAs) we have observed and to determine whether or not the frequency of cavernous sinus invasion is different among each type of morphology.

Methods: In addition, several proliferative markers, including Ki67, p53, E-cadherin, matrix metallo-proteinase 9 and pituitary tumor derived fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (ptd-FGFR4), were also investigated in invasive and non-invasive tumors.

Results: Our consequent 213 CNFPAs were diagnosed as follows: 64% were silent gonadotroph adenomas, 18% were null cell adenomas, 12% were silent corticotroph adenomas, 4% were silent Subtype 3 adenomas, and 1% were other types of adenomas. Female patients or younger patients showed a significant preponderance in silent corticotroph adenomas and in silent Subtype 3 adenomas, respectively. Cavernous sinus invasion occurs most frequently in silent corticotroph adenomas (85%) followed by Subtype 3 adenomas (67%), null cell adenomas (38%), and silent gonadotroph adenomas (11%). There were no significant differences in the Ki67, p53, E-cadherin, matrix metallo-proteinase 9, and ptd-FGFR4 expression between tumors with and without cavernous sinus invasion.

Conclusion: From a clinical standpoint, it is quite important to differentiate morphological type in CNFPAs to aid the clinician in assessing the clinical behavior and prognosis of the tumor. Therefore, we suggest that all CNFPAs be examined not only by conventional light microscopy but also by immunohistochemistry, preferably by electron microscopy, to achieve a correct morphological diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / classification*
  • Adenoma / immunology
  • Adenoma / pathology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / classification*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / immunology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies