Annotation of pituitary neuroendocrine tumors with genome-wide expression analysis

Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2021 Nov 10;9(1):181. doi: 10.1186/s40478-021-01284-6.


Pituitary neuroendocrine tumors (PitNETs) are common, generally benign tumors with complex clinical characteristics related to hormone hypersecretion and/or growing sellar tumor mass. PitNETs can be classified based on the expression pattern of anterior pituitary hormones and three main transcriptions factors (TF), SF1, PIT1 and TPIT that regulate differentiation of adenohypophysial cells. Here, we have extended this classification based on the global transcriptomics landscape using tumor tissue from a well-defined cohort comprising 51 PitNETs of different clinical and histological types. The molecular profiles were compared with current classification schemes based on immunohistochemistry. Our results identified three main clusters of PitNETs that were aligned with the main pituitary TFs expression patterns. Our analyses enabled further identification of specific genes and expression patterns, including both known and unknown genes, that could distinguish the three different classes of PitNETs. We conclude that the current classification of PitNETs based on the expression of SF1, PIT1 and TPIT reflects three distinct subtypes of PitNETs with different underlying biology and partly independent from the expression of corresponding hormones. The transcriptomic analysis reveals several potentially targetable tumor-driving genes with previously unknown role in pituitary tumorigenesis.

Keywords: Omics; Pathology; PitNET; Pituitary adenoma; RNA-seq; Transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / genetics*
  • Adenoma / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / genetics*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / metabolism
  • Pituitary Gland, Anterior / metabolism
  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior / metabolism
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Transcriptome


  • Pituitary Hormones, Anterior