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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

ACTH-producing pituitary adenomas in Addison's disease: two cases treated by transsphenoidal microsurgery.

In 2 women with known Addison's disease, progressive hyperpigmentation reappeared years after an initial remission under conventional substitution therapy with cortisone. Excessively elevated plasma ACTH concentrations and radiological evidence of sella turcica deformation led to the diagnosis of ACTH-producing adenomas and prompted their removal by transsphenoidal microsurgery. In one patient, a large Crooke's cell adenoma with extensive extrasellar expansion had caused severe and irreversible bilateral defects of the visual fields and unilateral optic atrophy. Surgical removal of the tumour and radiotherapy brought about a permanent disappearance of the hyperpigmentation, but eventually led to secondary hypothyroidism. In the second patients, the selective removal of a small intrasellar eosinophilic adenoma consisting of ACTH-producing cells did not alleviate the hyperpigmentation and did not lower the plasma ACTH concentration. However, hyperpigmentation regressed markedly within a year of treatment with a higher dose of cortisone. The rarity of similar cases in the literature seems to indicate that insufficient feedback suppression of ACTH-producing cells in treated Addison's disease does not by itself induce the development of a pituitary adenoma, but might promote the growth of an independently and coincidentally occurring microadenoma, which would have caused Cushing's disease in a person with intact adrenal glands.[1]


  1. ACTH-producing pituitary adenomas in Addison's disease: two cases treated by transsphenoidal microsurgery. Krautli, B., Müller, J., Landolt, A.M., von Schulthess, F. Acta Endocrinol. (1982) [Pubmed]
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