The Epigenomic Landscape of Pituitary Adenomas Reveals Specific Alterations and Differentiates Among Acromegaly, Cushing's Disease and Endocrine-Inactive Subtypes

Clin Cancer Res. 2018 Sep 1;24(17):4126-4136. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-17-2206. Epub 2018 Jul 3.


Purpose: Pituitary adenomas are one of the most common benign neoplasms of the central nervous system. Although emerging evidence suggests roles for both genetic and epigenetic factors in tumorigenesis, the degree to which these factors contribute to disease remains poorly understood.Experimental Design: A multiplatform analysis was performed to identify the genomic and epigenomic underpinnings of disease among the three major subtypes of surgically resected pituitary adenomas in 48 patients: growth hormone (GH)-secreting (n = 17), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting (n = 13, including 3 silent-ACTH adenomas), and endocrine-inactive (n = 18). Whole-exome sequencing was used to profile the somatic mutational landscape, whole-transcriptome sequencing was used to identify disease-specific patterns of gene expression, and array-based DNA methylation profiling was used to examine genome-wide patterns of DNA methylation.Results: Recurrent single-nucleotide and small indel somatic mutations were infrequent among the three adenoma subtypes. However, somatic copy-number alterations (SCNA) were identified in all three pituitary adenoma subtypes. Methylation analysis revealed adenoma subtype-specific DNA methylation profiles, with GH-secreting adenomas being dominated by hypomethylated sites. Likewise, gene-expression patterns revealed adenoma subtype-specific profiles. Integrating DNA methylation and gene-expression data revealed that hypomethylation of promoter regions are related with increased expression of GH1 and SSTR5 genes in GH-secreting adenomas and POMC gene in ACTH-secreting adenomas. Finally, multispectral IHC staining of immune-related proteins showed abundant expression of PD-L1 among all three adenoma subtypes.Conclusions: Taken together, these data stress the contribution of epigenomic alterations to disease-specific etiology among adenoma subtypes and highlight potential targets for future immunotherapy-based treatments. This article reveals novel insights into the epigenomics underlying pituitary adenomas and highlights how differences in epigenomic states are related to important transcriptome alterations that define adenoma subtypes. Clin Cancer Res; 24(17); 4126-36. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acromegaly / genetics
  • Acromegaly / pathology
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / genetics
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • B7-H1 Antigen / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cushing Syndrome / genetics
  • Cushing Syndrome / pathology
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics*
  • DNA Methylation / genetics*
  • Epigenomics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genome, Human
  • Growth Hormone / genetics
  • Humans
  • INDEL Mutation / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / classification
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Receptors, Somatostatin / genetics
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • Whole Exome Sequencing


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human
  • Receptors, Somatostatin
  • somatostatin receptor 5
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Growth Hormone