Molecular heterogeneity in aldosterone-producing adenomas

Kazutaka Nanba, Andrew X. Chen, Kei Omata, Michelle Vinco, Thomas J. Giordano, Tobias Else, Gary D. Hammer, Scott A. Tomlins, William E. Rainey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Context: The use of next-generation sequencing has resulted in the identification of recurrent somatic mutations underlying primary aldosteronism (PA). However, significant gaps remain in our understanding of the relationship between tumor aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) expression and somatic mutation status. Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate tumor CYP11B2 expression and somatic aldosterone-driver gene mutation heterogeneity. Methods: Fifty-one adrenals from 51 PA patients were studied. Immunohistochemistry for CYP11B2 was performed. Aldosterone-producing adenomas with intratumor CYP11B2 heterogeneity were analyzed for mutation status using targeted next-generation sequencing. DNA was isolated from CYP11B2-positive, CYP11B2-negative, and adjacent normal areas from formalinfixed, paraffin-embedded sections. Results: Of 51 adrenals, seven (14 %) showed distinct heterogeneity in CYP11B2 by immunohistochemistry, including six adenomas with intratumor heterogeneity and one multinodular hyperplastic adrenal with both CYP11B2-positive and-negative nodules. Of the six adrenocortical adenomas with CYP11B2 heterogeneity, three had aldosterone-regulating mutations (CACNA1D p.F747C, KCNJ5 p.L168R, ATP1A1 p.L104R) only in CYP11B2-positive regions, and one had two different mutations localized to two histologically distinct CYP11B2-positive regions (ATP2B3 p.L424-V425del, KCNJ5 p.G151R). Lastly, one adrenal with multiple CYP11B2-expressing nodules showed different mutations in each (CACNA1D p.F747V and ATP1A1 p.L104R), and no mutations were identified in CYP11B2-negative nodule or adjacent normal adrenal. Conclusions: Adrenal tumors in patients with PA can demonstrate clear heterogeneity in CYP11B2 expression and somatic mutations in driver genes for aldosterone production. These findings suggest that aldosterone-producing adenoma tumorigenesis can occur within preexisting nodules through the acquisition of somatic mutations that drive aldosterone production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1007
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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