Glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit-producing pituitary adenomas in rats treated for one year with calcitonin

J. L. Jameson*, J. Weiss, J. M. Polak, G. V. Childs, S. R. Bloom, J. H. Steel, C. C. Capen, D. E. Prentice, A. W. Fetter, J. M. Langloss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Calcitonin, a calcium-lowering hormone, has been associated with an increased incidence of nonfunctioning pituitary tumors in rats. In this study, rats were treated with calcitonin (80 IU/kg/d) for 52 weeks. After treatment with calcitonin, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization analyses demonstrated that most pituitary tumors expressed the glycoprotein hormone α-subunit. Expression of the α-subunit was identified rarely in hyperplastic lesions of control animals. Serum levels of GH, PRL, ACTH, LH, and FSH were unchanged in calcitonin-treated rats relative to controls. However, TSH levels were increased 2.1 fold after chronic treatment with calcitonin in both male and female rats (P < 0.001). The level of glycoprotein hormone α-subunit was markedly increased (20-fold) in male rats with smaller elevations in female rats. Time course studies demonstrated that increases in serum α-subunit levels could be detected by 24 weeks of treatment and that elevations in α-subunit were present in the majority of animals by 40 weeks of treatment with calcitonin. The authors conclude that high doses of calcitonin, administered to rats for 6 months or longer, increases the incidence of α-subunit-producing pituitary tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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