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Ki-67 labeling index and expression of p53 are non-predictive for invasiveness and tumor size in functional and nonfunctional pituitary adenomas



It is still controversial whether an increased proliferation index is correlated with the tumor invasiveness of pituitary adenomas. A homogeneous large monocentric series of pituitary adenomas was retrospectively analyzed. The correlation between the proliferation indices (Ki-67 and p53 expression levels) and invasiveness and size of pituitary adenomas was investigated in primary operated and recurrent adenomas.


Four hundred thirty-nine patients after resection of pituitary adenomas were retrospectively included (43 recurrent tumors, 196 null cell adenomas, 86 somatotroph adenomas, 55 corticotroph adenomas, 55 prolactinomas, 4 thyreotroph adenomas). The maximum tumor diameter and tumor invasiveness in Knosp grading were assessed and Ki-67 and p53 immunostaining was performed. The role of invasiveness was evaluated using a cumulative odds ordinal logistic regression. For calculating the effect of tumor size, a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted.


Overall and in the subgroups, no significant correlation between proliferation indices and mean tumor diameter was found. No significant predictive expression value of Ki-67 and p53 on tumor invasiveness and in recurrent tumors could be demonstrated. There was a tendency that Ki-67 LI and p53 LI are higher in recurrent corticotroph adenomas and lactotroph adenomas but values did not reach the significant level.


Invasive character of pituitary adenomas is neither correlated with increased Ki-67 LI nor with increased p53 expression. Proliferation parameters are independent from adenoma size at initial presentation. The partly elevated expression of Ki-67 in recurrent tumors underlines the clinical importance of the marker.

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Correspondence to Florian Grimm.

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Grimm, F., Maurus, R., Beschorner, R. et al. Ki-67 labeling index and expression of p53 are non-predictive for invasiveness and tumor size in functional and nonfunctional pituitary adenomas. Acta Neurochir 161, 1149–1156 (2019).

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  • Pituitary adenomas
  • p53
  • Ki-67
  • Invasiveness