Feline Pituitary Adenomas: Correlation of Histologic and Immunohistochemical Characteristics With Clinical Findings and Case Outcome

Vet Pathol. 2021 Mar;58(2):266-275. doi: 10.1177/0300985820978309. Epub 2020 Dec 7.


Pituitary glands from 141 feline autopsy cases were reviewed histologically. Adenoma and hyperplasia were the most common lesions at 13 cases each. Pituitary adenoma was more likely than hyperplasia to be associated with clinical evidence of endocrinopathy or an intracranial mass (P < .001). A histochemical and immunohistochemical panel was applied to 44 autopsy- or hypophysectomy-derived pituitary adenomas in 43 cats from 2 diagnostic laboratories. Adenomas were differentiated from hyperplasia by the presence of disrupted reticulin fibers. One cat had a double (somatotroph and melanotroph) adenoma. Twenty somatotroph adenomas consisted of periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-negative acidophils that expressed growth hormone; 16/20 had hypersomatotropism; 17/20 had diabetes mellitus. Eleven melanotroph adenomas consisted of PAS-positive basophils or chromophobes that expressed melanocyte-stimulating and adrenocorticotrophic hormones; 5/11 had hypercortisolism; 6/11 had diabetes mellitus. Eleven gonadotroph adenomas consisted of PAS-negative chromophobes that expressed follicle-stimulating and/or luteinizing hormones. Two thyrotroph adenomas consisted of PAS-negative basophils or chromophobes that expressed thyroid-stimulating hormone. Pituitary-dependent disease was not recognized in cats with gonadotroph or thyrotroph adenomas. The Ki-67 proliferation index in hypophysectomy specimens was lower in somatotroph than in melanotroph adenomas. Fourteen cats with hypophysectomy-treated somatotroph or melanotroph adenoma had an 899-day median survival time versus 173 days in 17 nonsurgical cases. After adjusting for age, adenoma size and type, hypophysectomized cats had an overall better survival time than nonsurgical cases (P = .029). The study results underscore the value of hypophysectomy and trophic hormone immunohistochemistry in the treatment and classification of feline pituitary adenomas.

Keywords: acromegaly; adenohypophyseal hyperplasia; cat; diabetes mellitus; feline diseases; hypercortisolism; hypersomatotropism; immunohistochemistry; pituitary adenoma; pituitary neuroendocrine tumor; transsphenoidal hypophysectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acromegaly* / veterinary
  • Adenoma* / veterinary
  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases*
  • Cats
  • Hypophysectomy / veterinary
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / veterinary


  • Luteinizing Hormone