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Author Notes:

Email Address: brandon.miller@emory.edu

We would like to thank Emily Feinstein from the Department of Neurological Surgery for her assistance with figure design.

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.



  • central nervous system melanoma
  • pituitary carcinoma
  • pituitary adenoma

Transformation of a Silent Adrencorticotrophic Pituitary Tumor Into Central Nervous System Melanoma


Journal Title:

Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports


Volume 1, Number 2


Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Silent adrenocorticotrophic pituitary adenomas are nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas that express adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) but do not cause the clinical or laboratory features of hypercortisolemia. Primary central nervous system (CNS) melanoma is well documented, but rarely originates in the sellar region or pituitary gland. Here we report transformation of an aggressive silent adrenocorticotrophic pituitary adenoma that transformed into CNS melanoma and review other presentations of pituitary melanoma. A 37-year-old woman initially presented with apoplexy and an invasive nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenoma for which she underwent transphenoidal surgery. The patient underwent 3 subsequent surgeries as the tumor continued to progress. Pathology from the first 3 operations showed pituitary adenoma or carcinoma. Pathology from the final surgery showed melanoma and the magnetic resonance imaging characteristics of the tumor had changed to become consistent with CNS melanoma. Dermatologic and ophthalmologic examinations did not identify cutaneous or ocular melanoma. The patient’s disease progressed despite aggressive surgical, medical and radiologic treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating transformation of a primary pituitary tumor into melanoma. The mechanism of tumor transformation is unclear, but it is possible that a mutation in the original ACTH-producing tumor lead to increased cleavage of pro-opiomelanocortin or ACTH into α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which in turn stimulated the expression of microopthalmia transcription factor, leading to melanocytic phenotype transformation.

Copyright information:

© 2013 American Federation for Medical Research

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits distribution of derivative works, distribution, public display, and publicly performance, making multiple copies, provided the original work is properly cited. This license requires copyright and license notices be kept intact, credit be given to copyright holder and/or author.

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