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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 659232, 10 pages
Clinical Study

Comparative Analysis of Clinical, Hormonal and Morphological Studies in Patients with Neuroendocrine ACTH-Producing Tumours

Endocrinological Research Center, Moscow 117036, Russia

Received 8 August 2012; Revised 19 December 2012; Accepted 20 December 2012

Academic Editor: Maria Fleseriu

Copyright © 2013 G. S. Kolesnikova et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper highlights the problem of neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) with clinical symptoms of hypercorticism caused by hypersecretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) by tumour cells. In most cases (85%), the tumours were localized in the pituitary gland (Cushing's disease); 15% of the patients had an extrapituitary tumour that manifest as an ectopic ACTH secretion (EAS). Comparative analysis of clinical, hormonal, histological, and immunohistochemical characteristics of pituitary and extrapituitary ACTH-secreting NET was performed. It included 46 patients with CD and 38 ones exhibiting ectopic ACTH secretion (EAS). Results of the study suggest differences between CD and EAS in terms of the severity of clinical manifestations and duration of the disease. Hormonal studies showed that EAS unlike CD was associated with high plasma ACTH and cortisol levels, late-evening salivary cortisol and daily urinary free cortisol, the absence of a 60% or greater reduction of cortisol in the HDDST test, and the presence of a low (less than 2) ACTH gradient in response to desmopressin administration with catheterization of cavernous sinuses. The study of morphofunctional characteristics of the removed NET demonstrated the ability of both pituitary and extrapituitary NETs to express ACTH as well as GH, PRL, LH, and FSH. The angiogenic markers (CD31 and VEGF) were detected with equal frequency regardless of the NET localization. The histological structure of all corticotropinomas suggested their benign origin, but extrapituitary NETs were represented by different morphological types with varying malignancy, invasiveness, and metastatic properties. A higher cell proliferation potential (Ki-67) was documented for NET in patients presenting with an ectopic ACTH secretion compared to those having corticotropinomas.