Malignant adrenocortical tumors (ACTs) are rare and highly aggressive; conversely, benign tumors are common and frequently found incidentally (the so-called incidentalomas). Currently, the use of molecular markers in the diagnosis of ACTs is still controversial. The aim of this study was to analyze the molecular profile of different ACTs with the purpose of identifying markers useful for differentiating between these tumors. The ACTs that were studied (n=31) included nonfunctioning adenomas (ACAn)/incidentalomas (n=13), functioning adenomas with Cushing's syndrome (ACAc) (n=7), and carcinomas (n=11); normal adrenal glands (n=12) were used as controls. For each sample, the percentage area stained for the markers StAR, IGF2, IGF1R, p53, MDM2, p21, p27, cyclin D1, Ki-67, β-catenin, and E-cadherin was quantified using a morphometric computerized tool. IGF2, p27, cyclin D1, and Ki-67 were the markers for which the percentage of stained area was significantly higher in carcinoma samples than in adenoma samples. Ki-67 and p27 were the markers that exhibited the highest discriminative power for differential diagnosis between carcinomas and all type of adenomas, while IGF2 and StAR were only found to be useful for differentiating between carcinomas and ACAn and between carcinomas and ACAc respectively. The usefulness of Ki-67 has been recognized before in the differential diagnosis of malignant tumors. The additional use of p27 as an elective marker to distinguish benign ACTs from malignant ACTs should be considered.
Sofia S Pereira, Tiago Morais, Madalena M Costa, Mariana P Monteiro and Duarte Pignatelli
Sofia S Pereira, Mariana P Monteiro, Sonir R Antonini and Duarte Pignatelli
Apoptosis evading is a hallmark of cancer. Tumor cells are characterized by having an impaired apoptosis signaling, a fact that deregulates the balance between cell death and survival, leading to tumor development, invasion and resistance to treatment. In general, patients with adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC) have an extremely bad prognosis, which is related to disease progression and significant resistance to treatments. In this report, we performed an integrative review about the disruption of apoptosis in ACC that may underlie the characteristic poor prognosis in these patients. Although the apoptosis has been scarcely studied in ACC, the majority of the deregulation phenomena already described are anti-apoptotic. Most importantly, in a near future, targeting apoptosis modulation in ACC patients may become a promising therapeutic.