The Clinicopathological Spectrum of Acromegaly

J Clin Med. 2019 Nov 13;8(11):1962. doi: 10.3390/jcm8111962.


Background: Acromegaly results from a persistent excess in growth hormone with clinical features that may be subtle or severe. The most common cause of acromegaly is a pituitary tumor that causes excessive production of growth hormone (GH), and rare cases are due to an excess of the GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) or the ectopic production of GH.

Objective: Discuss the different diseases that present with manifestations of GH excess and clinical acromegaly, emphasizing the distinct clinical and radiological characteristics of the different pathological entities.

Methods: We performed a narrative review of the published clinicopathological information about acromegaly. An English-language search for relevant studies was conducted on PubMed from inception to 1 August 2019. The reference lists of relevant studies were also reviewed.

Results: Pituitary tumors that cause GH excess have several variants, including pure somatotroph tumors that can be densely or sparsely granulated, or plurihormonal tumors that include mammosomatotroph, mixed somatotroph-lactotroph tumors and mature plurihomonal Pit1-lineage tumors, acidophil stem cell tumors and poorly-differentiated Pit1-lineage tumors. Each tumor type has a distinct pathophysiology, resulting in variations in clinical manifestations, imaging and responses to therapies.

Conclusion: Detailed clinicopathological information will be useful in the era of precision medicine, in which physicians tailor the correct treatment modality to each patient.

Keywords: acromegaly; ectopic hormone production; pituitary tumor; somatotroph tumor.

Publication types

  • Review