Close examination of steroidogenesis disorders in a DOC- and progesterone-producing adrenocortical carcinoma

Masakatsu Sone; Hirotaka Shibata; Keiko Homma; Naohisa Tamura; Jun-ichi Akahira; Satoshi Hamada; Mitsuhiko Yahata; Nobuyuki Fukui; Hiroshi Itoh; Hironobu Sasano; Kazuwa Nakao
February 2009
Endocrine (1355008X);Feb2009, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p25
Academic Journal
Abstract  We report a case of hypertension, hypokalemia, and amenorrhea accompanying an adrenocortical carcinoma. A 27-year-old woman was admitted to our hospital because of a left adrenal incidentaloma. She presented with hypertension, hypokalemia, and amenorrhea; her plasma renin activity was low, but her plasma aldosterone concentration was normal, as were cortisol and androgens. By contrast, her serum concentrations of deoxycorticosterone (DOC), 18-hydroxydeoxycorticosterone, and progesterone were high, and her urinary steroid profile showed elevated secretion of 17-deoxysteroids and 11-deoxysteroids (progesterone, DOC, 11-dehydrocorticosterone, and 11-deoxycortisol), and 3β-hydroxy 5-en steroids (pregnenolone, 17-hydroxypregnenolone, and DHEA). Decreased ratios of metabolites of (1) 17-OHpregnenolone to pregnenolone and 17-OHprogesterone to progesterone, (2) corticosterone to DOC and cortisol to 11-deoxycortisol, and (3) progesterone to pregnenolone, 17-OHprogesterone to 17-OHpregnenolone and androstenedione to DHEA suggested the impairment of 17α-hydroxylase, 11β-hydroxylase, and 3β-HSD activities, respectively. After the tumor was removed, levels of all adrenal steroids were normalized. Based on the Weiss criteria, the tumor was diagnosed as an adrenocortical carcinoma, and immunohistochemical analysis of steroidogenic enzymes revealed disorganized steroidogenesis in the tumor tissue. With adrenocortical carcinomas, heterogeneity of individual steroid producing enzymes within tumor cells can lead to hypersecretion of various steroid intermediates, even when steroid end products are within the normal range.


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