Silent corticotroph adenomas: Emory university cohort and comparison with acth-negative nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas

Adriana G. Ioachimescu*, Leslie Eiland, Vaninder S. Chhabra, Gena M. Mastrogianakis, Matthew J. Schniederjan, Daniel Brat, Anthony V. Pileggi, Nelson M. Oyesiku

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Silent corticotroph adenomas (SCAs) are clinically nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs) with positive staining for corticotropin (ACTH) by immunohistochemistry. Whether SCAs behave more aggressively than NFPAs without ACTH immunoreactivity (ACTH negative) remains controversial. OBJECTIVE: To compare characteristics and outcomes of SCAs with ACTH-negative NFPAs and to identify predictors of aggressive outcome. Primary composite endpoint included the first of any of the following events: progression, recurrence, or death. METHODS: We reviewed all cases of SCAs and all ACTH-negative macroadenomas operated on between April 1995 and December 2007 by 1 neurosurgeon. RESULTS: Our retrospective cohorts included 33 SCAs followed for 42.5 months (median) (range, 6.7-179.0 months) and 126 ACTH-negative patients followed for 42 months (range, 6-142 months). SCA were younger (mean ± SD; 49.6 ± 14.1) than ACTH-negative patients (55.6 ± 12.8, P = .02). Tumor diameter was similar (2.8 ± 1.0 cm); cavernous sinus invasion was present in 45.5% of SCAs and 30.2% of ACTH-negative NFPAs (P = .09). Postoperative tumor residual was detected in 53.1% of SCAs and 49.6% of ACTH-negative patients. Radiation was administered in 40.6% of SCAs at 16 months (range, 3-149 months) and 33.3% of ACTH-negative patients at 13 months (range, 3-94) postoperatively. Progression of residual tumor occurred in 24.2% of SCAs and 11.1% of ACTH-negative patients (P = .08); recurrence was similar (6.0% SCAs vs 5.5% ACTH-negative patients). Cumulative event-free survival rates were not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = .3). Age, sex, tumor size, cavernous sinus invasion, or SCA subtypes were not associated with outcome. CONCLUSION: SCA patients were younger, but exhibited similar postoperative tumor regrowth rates as ACTH-negative macroadenomas while using a similar adjuvant radiation protocol. Long-term follow-up is warranted because predictors of regrowth are currently lacking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-303
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Corticotroph adenomas
  • Corticotropin
  • Nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma
  • Surgical outcomes
  • Transsphenoidal surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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