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Shigeru Genka, Hitoshi Soeda, Manabu Takahashi, Hideki Katakami, Naoko Sanno, Yoshiyuki Osamura, Tokuro Fuchinoue and Akira Teramoto

✓ The case of a 52-year-old woman with acromegaly, diabetes insipidus, and visual impairment caused by a metastatic growth hormone—releasing hormone (GRH)—produced pancreatic tumor is reported. Serum growth hormone (GH) and somatomedin C levels were elevated to 14 ng/ml (normal < 5 ng/ml), and 3.20 U/ml (normal < 1.88 U/ml), respectively. Paradoxical increases were observed in GH levels after glucose tolerance and thyrotropin—releasing hormone-stimulation tests. Biopsy of a pituitary tumor observed on computerized tomography scans and magnetic resonance studies revealed a metastatic cancer. When circulating GRH levels were measured, a marked increase in plasma GRH (1145 pg/ml; normal < 4—1 pg/ml) was observed. The patient died of cachexia due to metastases.

Postmortem examination revealed that a primary tumor, a malignant endocrine lesion, was present in the pancreas, with metastatic tumors in the pituitary, lung, liver, and adrenal glands. Synthesis and production of GRH by the tumor was demonstrated by Northern blotting and immunohistochemical analysis. The pituitary gland showed hyperplastic, but not adenomatous changes. The authors stress the importance of both exploration for an ectopic source of GRH and the search for a GH-producing pituitary adenoma when unusual signs and symptoms are seen in patients with acromegaly.

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Kohei Fukuoka, Takaaki Yanagisawa, Tomonari Suzuki, Mitsuaki Shirahata, Jun-ichi Adachi, Kazuhiko Mishima, Takamitsu Fujimaki, Hideki Katakami, Masao Matsutani and Ryo Nishikawa

OBJECTIVE

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) can be detected in a certain population of patients with a germinoma, but the frequency of germinoma HCG secretion and the prognostic value of HCG in the CSF are unknown.

METHODS

The authors measured HCG levels in sera and CSF in patients with a histologically confirmed germinoma by using a highly sensitive assay known as an immune complex transfer enzyme immunoassay (EIA), which is more than 100 times as sensitive as the conventional method, and they analyzed the correlation between HCG levels and the prognoses of patients with a germinoma.

RESULTS

HCG levels in sera and CSF of 35 patients with a germinoma were examined with the immune complex transfer EIA. The median CSF HCG levels in patients with a germinoma during the pretreatment and posttreatment evaluations were 192.5 pg/ml (range 1.2–13,116.5 pg/ml) and 18.7 pg/ml (1.2–283.9 pg/ml), respectively. Before treatment, the CSF HCG level was greater than the cutoff value in 85.7% of the patients with a germinoma. The authors compared survival rates among the patients by using a CSF HCG cutoff level of 1000 pg/ml, and the difference was statistically significant between the groups (p = 0.029, log-rank test).

CONCLUSIONS

Results of this study demonstrate that most germinomas secrete HCG. Patients with a germinoma that secretes higher amounts of HCG in their CSF experienced recurrence more frequently than those with lower CSF HCG levels.