Pituitary adenomas are common neoplasms of the anterior pituitary gland. Germ-line mutations in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein (AIP) gene cause pituitary adenoma predisposition (PAP), a recent discovery based on genetic studies in Northern Finland. In this population, a founder mutation explained a significant proportion of all acromegaly cases. Typically, PAP patients were of a young age at diagnosis but did not display a strong family history of pituitary adenomas. To evaluate the role of AIP in pituitary adenoma susceptibility in other populations and to gain insight into patient selection for molecular screening of the condition, we investigated the possible contribution of AIP mutations in pituitary tumorigenesis in patients from Europe and the United States. A total of 460 patients were investigated by AIP sequencing: young acromegaly patients, unselected acromegaly patients, unselected pituitary adenoma patients, and endocrine neoplasia-predisposition patients who were negative for MEN1 mutations. Nine AIP mutations were identified. Because many of the patients displayed no family history of pituitary adenomas, detection of the condition appears challenging. Feasibility of AIP immunohistochemistry (IHC) as a prescreening tool was tested in 50 adenomas: 12 AIP mutation-positive versus 38 mutation-negative pituitary tumors. AIP IHC staining levels proved to be a useful predictor of AIP status, with 75% sensitivity and 95% specificity for germ-line mutations. AIP contributes to PAP in all studied populations. AIP IHC, followed by genetic counseling and possible AIP mutation analysis in IHC-negative cases, a procedure similar to the diagnostics of the Lynch syndrome, appears feasible in identification of PAP.
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