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Clinical, pathophysiologic, genetic and therapeutic progress in Primary Bilateral Macronodular Adrenal Hyperplasia

Published date

December 22, 2022


Patients with primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (PBMAH) usually present bilateral benign adrenocortical macronodules at imaging and variable levels of cortisol excess. PBMAH is a rare cause of primary overt Cushing's syndrome, but may represent up to one third of bilateral adrenal incidentalomas with evidence of cortisol excess. The increased steroidogenesis in PBMAH is often regulated by various G-protein coupled receptors aberrantly expressed in PBMAH tissues; some receptor ligands are ectopically produced in PBMAH tissues creating aberrant autocrine/paracrine regulation of steroidogenesis. The bilateral nature of PBMAH and familial aggregation, led to the identification of germline heterozygous inactivating mutations of the ARMC5 gene, in 20-25% of the apparent sporadic cases and more frequently in familial cases; ARMC5 mutations/pathogenic variants can be associated with meningiomas. More recently, combined germline mutations/pathogenic variants and somatic events inactivating the KDM1A gene were specifically identified in patients affected by GIP-dependent PBMAH. Functional studies demonstrated that inactivation of KDM1A leads to GIP-receptor (GIPR) overexpression and over or down-regulation of other GPCRs. Genetic analysis is now available for early detection of family members of index cases with PBMAH carrying identified germline pathogenic variants. Detailed biochemical, imaging, and co-morbidities assessment of the nature and severity of PBMAH is essential for its management. Treatment is reserved for patients with overt or mild cortisol/aldosterone or other steroid excesses taking in account co-morbidities. It previously relied on bilateral adrenalectomy; however recent studies tend to favor unilateral adrenalectomy, or less frequently, medical treatment with cortisol synthesis inhibitors or specific blockers of aberrant GPCR.

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