The presence of growth hormone (GH) immunostaining in patients who lack the biochemical and clinical features of acromegaly has been described. In contrast, there is little information on the absence of GH immunostaining in patients with acromegaly. We describe five patients with acromegaly with no intratumoral immunostaining for GH. We reviewed all patients undergoing surgery for acromegaly. Out of 136 patients treated surgically in a 10 year period, five (3.7 %) were found to have no GH immunostaining on repetitive testing at pathological examination. Their pathology slides were re-examined by an experienced neuropathologist, along with twenty nonfunctional pituitary tumors and ten GH-positive adenomas as negative and positive controls, respectively. All patients had clinical features consistent with acromegaly and elevated baseline insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and GH. All patients had no immunostaining for GH on multiple inspections. Of twenty patients with nonfunctional tumors, two had ≤25 % staining for GH in a scattered and non-coherent pattern and the rest were negative. In all ten positive control patients >25 % of the tumor cells stained diffusely for GH. All five patients achieved biochemical remission at 1.4-8 years post-op using a combination of primary surgery alone (n = 1), repeat surgery (n = 1), radiotherapy (n = 3) and/or medical therapy (n = 2). GH immunostaining of an adenoma may not be sufficient to confirm the diagnosis of acromegaly. All patients in our small series achieved remission by multimodality therapies. Further studies are needed to evaluate the significance of our observation and whether this subset of patients follows a distinct long term clinical course.
- Growth hormone
- Insulin-like growth factor 1
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy
- Pituitary adenoma
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism