Update on the treatment of pituitary adenomas: familial and genetic considerations

A F Daly, A Beckers
Acta Clinica Belgica 2008, 63 (6): 418-24
Clinically-relevant pituitary adenomas occur with a prevalence of approximately 1 per 1000 population in Belgium. Pituitary adenomas that occur in families are likely to have an important genetic pathophysiological basis. Currently about 5% of all pituitary adenoma cases have a family history of pituitary adenomas, classically due to multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and Carney complex (CNC). Over the last decade we have described non-MEN1/CNC familial pituitary tumours that include all tumour phenotypes, a condition named 'familial isolated pituitary adenoma' (FIPA). Clinical features of FIPA differ from those of sporadic pituitary adenomas in that patients with FIPA are often younger and have larger tumours at diagnosis. Approximately 15% of FIPA patients have mutations in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein gene (AIP), which indicates that FIPA may have a diverse genetic pathophysiology. In this review we examine new findings on the epidemiology of pituitary adenomas and we review familial causes of pituitary adenomas with a particular emphasis on modern clinical testing. In addition, the clinical and genetic features of FIPA are described as FIPA represents a useful framework to study the features of pituitary adenomas that occur in a familial setting.

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