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Somastostatin receptors are frequently expressed in phaeochromocytoma but data on somatostatin receptor subtyping are scanty and the functional response to the somatostatin analogue octretide is still debated.We report an unusual case of pheochromocytoma, causing ectopic Cushing’s syndrome due to CRH production by the tumour cells, in a 50-yr-old woman. Abdominal computed tomography revealed an inhomogeneous, 9-cm mass in the right adrenal gland, and [111In-DTPA0] octreotide scintigraphy showed an abnormal uptake of the radiotracer in the right perirenal region, corresponding to the adrenal mass. The patient underwent laparoscopic surgery and formalin-fixed and paraffinembedded samples were studied. The tumour was extensively characterized by immunohistochemistry and somatostatin receptor (SSTRs) subtypes expression was analyzed. Histological and immunohistochemical examination of the surgical specimens displayed a typical pheochromocytoma, which was found to be immunoreative to S-100, chromogranin A and neurofilaments. Immunostaining for SSTR subtypes showed a positive reaction for SSTR1, SSTR2A, SSTR2B, antisera on tumour cells. The intense and diffuse immunostaining for corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) antiserum indicated that Cushing’s disease was dependent on CRH overproduction by the pheochromocytoma, in which no immunostaining for adrenocorticotropic hormone was found. Our report confirms the heterogeneity of the pattern of SSTR expression in pheochromocytomas, and provide further evidence for functional SSTR subtype SSTR2a in a subgroup of pheochromocytomas, suggesting that these tumours may represent potential target for octreotide treatment.
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