Evaluation of proopiomelanocortin mRNA in the peripheral blood from patients with Cushing's syndrome of different origin

S. Bondioni, Giovanna Mantovani, N. Polentarutti, B. Ambrosi, P. Loli, E. Peverelli, A. G. Lania, P. Beck-Peccoz, A. Spada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome is due to ACTH overproduction originating from a pituitary corticotroph adenoma (Cushing's disease) or from ectopic tumors (ectopic ACTH syndrome). Due to difficulties in the differential diagnosis between these two forms of hypercortisolism it would be important to have molecular tools able to discriminate the two conditions. It is known that proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene transcription can originate messengers of different length. ACTH-omas show the normal 1072 nucleotides (nt) transcript, whereas ectopic tumors seem to be associated with a longer mRNA form (1450 nt). In order to analyse the presence of different POMC transcripts, we extracted total RNA from peripheral lymphocytes of 10 patients with Cushing's disease, 10 with ectopic Cushing syndrome, and 20 controls as well as from pituitary tissues (2 ACTH-omas and a normal pituitary polyA+ sample). Northern blot analysis correctly revealed a 1072 nt mRNA molecule in pituitary ACTH-oma and in the normal pituitary polyA+ RNA samples, whereas neither this molecule nor other alternative transcripts were detected in blood samples from patients and controls. These data were confirmed by the more sensitive RT-PCR technique. This study further underlines the need for alternative approaches in the diagnosis of ACTH-dependent Cushing's syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-832
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Peripheral blood
  • POMC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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