CONTEXT: Appropriate cell-to-cell adhesion is fundamental for the epithelial phenotype of pituitary cells. Loss of the adhesion protein E-cadherin has been associated with invasiveness, metastasis, and poor prognosis in cancers of epithelial origin. In somatotroph adenomas, a variable and reduced expression of E-cadherin has been demonstrated. In addition, nuclear translocation of E-cadherin was found to correlate with pituitary tumor invasion.
OBJECTIVE: The objective was to examine the protein expression of E-cadherin in somatotroph pituitary adenomas in relation to adenoma size, invasiveness, and somatostatin analog (SMS) efficacy.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Eighty-three patients were included, and 29 were treated preoperatively with SMS. Adenoma E-cadherin protein expression was analyzed by Western blot (61 patients) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) (80 patients) with antibodies directed against both extracellular and intracellular domains (IHC). The acute (direct surgery group) and long-term (preoperatively treated group) SMS responses were evaluated. Baseline tumor volume and invasiveness were measured on magnetic resonance imaging scans.
RESULTS: Membranous E-cadherin was lost in several adenomas. Nine of these were nuclear E-cadherin positive. The E-cadherin protein expression correlated negatively to tumor size and positively to acute SMS response. Low E-cadherin levels (preoperatively treated group only) and loss of membranous E-cadherin correlated to tumor invasiveness. The E-cadherin level correlated positively to tumor reduction after SMS treatment, and adenomas with nuclear E-cadherin staining had lower IGF-I reduction and tumor shrinkage. Preoperatively treated adenomas had reduced E-cadherin protein levels, but the IHC expression was unaltered.
CONCLUSION: Reduced E-cadherin expression may correlate to a dedifferentiated phenotype in the somatotroph pituitary adenomas.
2010. Vol. 95, no 5, 2334-2342 p.