The Pathology of Pituitary Adenomas From a Clinical Perspective

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2011 Jan 1;3:105-16. doi: 10.2741/s136.


Pituitary adenomas present with a variety of clinical endocrine manifestations and arise in a sporadic setting or rarely as part of hereditary genetic syndromes. Molecular analysis of familial pituitary adenomas has provided significant insight into pituitary tumorigenesis. Some specific genes have been identified that predispose to pituitary neoplasia, but these are rarely involved in the pathogenesis of sporadic tumors. The number of identified genes involved in pituitary tumorigenesis is progressively increasing. The possible resulting mechanisms of action involve abnormalities in signal transduction pathways, cell cycle regulators, growth factors, chromosome stability and others. Further studies are needed to evaluate the clinical significance of genetic alterations and their implications for patient prognosis, as well as to identify targets for existing and new therapeutic options. The aim of this review is to focus on the molecular pathology of pituitary adenomas from a practical perspective and discuss the possible clinical implications which may relate to particular molecular alterations. We have summarised familial syndromes related to pituitary adenomas and considered the prognostic value of selected molecular alterations in these tumors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carney Complex / genetics*
  • Carney Complex / pathology
  • Chromogranins
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / genetics
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Fibrous Dysplasia, Polyostotic / genetics*
  • Fibrous Dysplasia, Polyostotic / pathology
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 / genetics*
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 / pathology
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Securin


  • Chromogranins
  • Genetic Markers
  • MEN1 protein, human
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Securin
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • GNAS protein, human
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs