The Triad of Paragangliomas, Gastric Stromal Tumours and Pulmonary Chondromas (Carney Triad), and the Dyad of Paragangliomas and Gastric Stromal Sarcomas (Carney-Stratakis Syndrome): Molecular Genetics and Clinical Implications

J Intern Med. 2009 Jul;266(1):43-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2009.02110.x.


Carney triad (CT) describes the association of paragangliomas (PGLs) with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) and pulmonary chondromas (PCH). A number of other lesions have been described in the condition including pheochromocytomas, oesophageal leiomyomas and adrenocortical adenomas; CT is a novel form of multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN), a genetic condition with a female predilection. Inactivating mutations of the mitochondrial complex II succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) enzyme subunits SDHB, SDHC and SDHD have been found in familial and sporadic PGLs, and gain-of-function mutations of the oncogenes c-kit (KIT) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor A (PDGFRA) cause sporadic and familial GISTs. We recently reported an international series of patients with CT, 34 females and three males (median age of presentation 21 years) who did not carry SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, KIT or PDGFRA gene mutations. Comparative genomic hybridization revealed a number of DNA copy number changes. The most frequent and greatest contiguous change was a deletion within the 1pcen13-q21 region, which harbours the SDHC gene. Another frequent change was loss of 1p. Although GISTs showed more frequent losses of 1p than PGLs, the pattern of chromosomal changes was similar in the two tumours despite their different tissue origin and histology; the findings were consistent with a common genetic aetiology of these two tumours in CT. In a separate condition, in which the association (or dyad) of GISTs with PGLs is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner (Carney-Stratakis syndrome, CSS), germline mutations of the SDHB, SDHC and SDHD genes (but not KIT or PDFGRA) were found; GISTs in this condition were caused by SDH deficiency. We conclude that CT is a novel MEN syndrome whose genetic defect remains elusive. CSS is caused by SDH defects, suggesting that sarcomas (GISTs) can be caused by defective mitochondrial oxidation, consistent with recent data implicating this enzyme in a variety of endocrine and other tumours. The above have clinical implications (i) for patients with GISTs that are cKIT- and PDGFRA-mutation negative: these tumours are usually resistant to treatment with currently available tyrosine kinase inhibitors and may be part of a syndrome such as CT or CSS; and (ii) for patients with an inherited PGL syndrome, family history should be explored to identify any other tumours in the family, and in particular other endocrine lesions and GISTs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Chondroma / genetics*
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Male
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Paraganglioma / genetics*
  • Young Adult