Objective: von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) are autosomal dominant cancer syndromes. In both conditions, phaeochromocytoma is a prominent feature. It has recently been suggested that phaeochromocytoma can be the presenting and sole clinical manifestation of these multi-organ syndromes. The aim of this study was to ascertain the incidence of VHL and MEN2 among patients with sporadic phaeochromocytoma by mutational analysis.
Patients: Twenty-seven unrelated patients with biochemically and/or anatomically proven sporadic phaeochromocytoma were evaluated.
Design and measurements: Constitutional DNA obtained from the patients was analysed by single stranded conformational analysis (SSCP) for mutations within the VHL gene coding sequence and by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) for predominant mutations in exons 10, 11 and 16 of the RET proto-oncogene. The incidence of patients positive for either VHL or RET germline mutations was assessed.
Results: Twenty-six of 27 patients had normal SSCP patterns in all three VHL gene exon segments and only one patient, with an atypical clinical presentation, had an aberrant pattern in exon 3 which upon DNA sequencing was shown to harbor a G to A transversion mutation at nucleotide 695. All patients had normal RET exon 10, 11 and 16 DGGE migration patterns.
Conclusion: Most, if not all, patients with typical unilateral sporadic phaeochromocytoma do not have von Hippel-Lindau disease or MEN2. Thus, clinical and/or molecular investigation for von Hippel-Lindau disease and MEN2 in this patient population does not appear to be indicated.