Infrasellar pituitary gangliocytoma causing Cushing's syndrome.

PMID 25183169


Pituitary gangliocytomas are uncommon neuronal tumours that may present with endocrine disorders, the most frequent being acromegaly caused by growth hormone hypersecretion. Cushing's syndrome is very rarely seen with gangliocytomas. We report the unique case of a 62 year-old woman whose clinical picture and endocrine testing clearly demonstrated adrenocorticotropin (ACTH)-dependent Cushing's syndrome. Pituitary magnetic resonance imaging showed a 12-mm homogeneous, infra- and retrosellar mass first diagnosed as pituitary macroadenoma. Transsphenoidal surgery was performed and allowed complete resection of the tumour with sparing of normal anterior pituitary. Very low postoperative serum cortisol and ACTH levels were observed in the early postoperative period and the patient is still in remission 18 months after surgery, thus demonstrating that the resected lesion was entirely responsible for the clinical picture. Histological and immunocytochemical analyses demonstrated a benign tumour composed of mature neuronal cells suggestive of a gangliocytoma, expressing both ACTH and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). The tumour was surrounded by a rim of pituitary tissue containing ACTH-producing endocrine cells. Careful analysis of the resected lesion did not reveal any pituitary microadenoma. We search literature for similar cases and retraced only nine cases of gangliocytomas associated with Cushing's syndrome. In most of them, the tumour was combined with either pituitary corticotroph adenoma or hyperplasia. Our case represents a unique case of an infrasellar pituitary gangliocytoma which was able to cause Cushing's syndrome by both direct ACTH production and CRH-induced stimulation of neighbour normal corticotroph cells.