, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 197-206

Growth factors and cytokines in paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas, with special reference to sustentacular cells

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The aim of this study was to localize various growth factors and cytokines in paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas in order to understand their possible autocrine or paracrine functions, and to compare sustentacular cells of the adrenal medulla with pituitary stellate cells. Thirteen resected tumors, 11 paragangliomas and 2 pheochromocytomas of the adrenal medulla, were studied. In addition, five surgically removed nontumorous adrenals and five nontumorous pituitaries were studied. Varying numbers of sustentacular cells were immunopositive for S-100 protein and in most instances for glial fibrillary acidic protein. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 were localized to both cell types in all cases, whereas epidermal growth factor (EGF) immunopositivity was noted in only three. In all tumors, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) was restricted to chief cells and EGF receptor to sustentacular cells. Nontumorous chief cells and sustentacular cells of adrenal medulla exhibited immunoreactivities similar to those of paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas. Secretory adenohypophysial cells displayed various immunoreactivities for all growth factors, receptors, and cytokines studied. Pituitary stellate cells were immunopositive for EGF, EGF receptor, IGF-1, LIF, and TNF-α. In conclusion, paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas are immunoreactive for a wide spectrum of growth factors and cytokines. Immunocytochemistry demonstrated similarities between sustentacular cells and stellate cells of the pituitary in addition to their similar morphology. The significance of these observations regarding paracrine activities of chief and sustentacular cells remains to be determined.