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A Journal on Endocrine System Diseases

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Minerva Endocrinologica 2012 June;37(2):133-9

language: English

Molecular genetics of adrenocortical tumor formation and potential pharmacologic targets

Rauschecker M. 1, Stratakis C. A. 1, 2

1 Program of Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD);
2 Section on Endocrinology and Genetics, Program on Developmental Endocrinology and Genetics (PDEGEN), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, USA


Abnormalities in the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway have been linked to the formation of benign adrenal tumors, as well as a possible predisposition to adrenocortical cancer. Mutations in the G-protein coupled receptor are associated with McCune-Albright syndrome and ACTH-independent macronodular adrenal hyperplasia, while defects in cAMP-dependent protein kinase A can lead to the development of Carney’s complex, as well as primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease (PPNAD), and micronodular adrenocortical hyperplasia (MAH). Defects in phosphodiesterases, which regulate cAMP levels, have also been demonstrated in PPNAD and MAH. The Wnt signaling pathway, which is involved in oncogenesis in a variety of tumors, has also been implicated in adrenocortical tumorigenesis. MicroRNA profiling has added to our understanding of the signaling pathways involved in tumor formation in the adrenal cortex. Will this all lead to the development of specific targets for pharmacologic therapies? In this article, we review the molecular genetics of adrenocortical tumors and refer to potential targets for pharmacologic therapy.

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