Alpha and beta subunits of glycoprotein hormones in argyrophil pituitary tumors with small granule cells

Carlo Capella, Roberto Buffa, Luciana Usellini, Bruno Frigerio, Philippe Jehenson, Fausto Sessa, Enrico Solcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A group of 33 functionless pituitary tumors with small argyrophil granules (SAG) were collected from a series of 200 pituitary adenomas (16.5% of all adenomas). Histologically, the tumors showed an unusually high frequency of trabecular patterns, perivascular pseudorosettes, and oncocytoid transformation. Immunoreactivity for glycoprotein hormone αchain was found in more or less numerous cells of 20 cases (64.5% of SAG tumors). Thirteen of these cases also showed specific βchain immunoreactivity, especially for folliclestimulating hormone (FSH) βchain, which was present in 11 tumors. Various admixtures of immature, oncocytic, sparsely granulated, and densely granulated cells were observed ultrastructurally, with prevalence of the latter cell variants in tumors showing immunoreactive cells and prevalence of the former cell variants in tumors lacking immunoreactive cells. It is suggested that some relationship may exist between SAG cell (glycoprotein hormone precursor cells?) tumors - or at least part of them - and glycoprotein hormone cell lines. Anyway, whatever their origin and interterpretation, SAG cell tumors seem to represent a distinct clinicopathologic entity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-50
Number of pages16
JournalUltrastructural Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1983


  • Electron microscopy
  • Glycoprotein hormones
  • Histochemistry
  • Pituitary adenomas
  • Small argyrophil granules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Structural Biology
  • Instrumentation


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