Context: Germline mutations in genes coding succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) subunits A, B, C, and D have been identified in familial paragangliomas (PGLs)/pheochromocytomas (PHEOs) and other tumors. We described a GH-secreting pituitary adenoma (PA) caused by SDHD mutation in a patient with familial PGLs. Additional patients with PAs and SDHx defects have since been reported.
Design: We studied 168 patients with unselected sporadic PA and with the association of PAs, PGLs, and/or pheochromocytomas, a condition we named the 3P association (3PAs) for SDHx germline mutations. We also studied the pituitary gland and hormonal profile of Sdhb(+/-) mice and their wild-type littermates at different ages.
Results: No SDHx mutations were detected among sporadic PA, whereas three of four familial cases were positive for a mutation (75%). Most of the SDHx-deficient PAs were either prolactinomas or somatotropinomas. Pituitaries of Sdhb(+/-) mice older than 12 months had an increased number mainly of prolactin-secreting cells and several ultrastructural abnormalities such as intranuclear inclusions, altered chromatin nuclear pattern, and abnormal mitochondria. Igf-1 levels of mutant mice tended to be higher across age groups, whereas Prl and Gh levels varied according to age and sex.
Conclusion: The present study confirms the existence of a new association that we termed 3PAs. It is due mostly to germline SDHx defects, although sporadic cases of 3PAs without SDHx defects also exist. Using Sdhb(+/-) mice, we provide evidence that pituitary hyperplasia in SDHx-deficient cells may be the initial abnormality in the cascade of events leading to PA formation.