Pathogenesis of Pituitary Tumors
Pituitary tumors are common and mostly benign neoplasia which cause excess or deficiency of pituitary hormones and compressive damage to adjacent organs. Oncogene activation [e.g. PTTG (pituitary tumor-transforming gene) and HMGA2], tumor suppressor gene inactivation (e.g. MEN1 and PRKAR1A), epigenetic changes (e.g. methylation) and humoral factors (e.g. ectopic production of stimulating hormones) are all possible pituitary tumor initiators; the micro-environment of pituitary tumors including steroid milieu, angiogenesis and abnormal cell adhesion further promote tumor growth. Senescence, a cellular defence mechanism against malignant transformation, may explain the benign nature of at least some pituitary tumors. We suggest that future research on pituitary tumor pathogenesis should incorporate systems approaches, and address regulatory mechanisms for pituitary cell proliferation, development of new animal models of pituitary tumor and isolation of functional human pituitary tumor cell lines.