Nuclear DNA patterns in adrenal cortex proliferative lesions

<p>In cortical adrenal gland tumours there are discrepancies between morphological criteria for malignancy and biological behaviour. This makes it difficult to select the appropriate treatment. We have studied morphometric and DNA densitometric features of 24 adrenal proliferative lesions (hyperplasia, adenoma, and carcinoma) by means of slide cytometry. All variables have been correlated with pathological diagnosis. The samples were selected from paraffin-embedded tissue, and representative lesions were Feulgen stained. Densitometric study showed aneuploid cell lines in every carcinoma, 5 of 8 adenomas, and 5 of 10 hyperplastic lesions. Both DNA nuclear content (mean ploidy of 2.11 c, 2.41 c, and 3.05 c) mean nuclear area (average of 31.26 microns 2, 35.92 microns 2, and 42.39 microns 2) showed progressive increase from hyperplasia to adenoma, and carcinoma. Mean shape factors were lowest in adenomas (1.69) and highest in carcinomas (1.82). Those karyometric variables which showed statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) among diagnostic groups were included in a stepwise three-way discriminant analysis. Only three parameters, shape factor (p = 0.0008), mean ploidy (p = 0.0012), and adrenal weight (p = 0.0055) persisted as independent predictive factors. Using the three variables selected by discriminant analysis on our cases, 100% of the adenomas were correctly classified, 83% of the carcinomas, and 80% of the hyperplasias. Tumour weight and nuclear shape factor differentiated adrenal cortex adenoma from carcinoma, while mean ploidy distinguished adrenal cortical hyperplasia from carcinoma. Nuclear pleomorphism (shape factor) and DNA-ploidy are the most important nuclear features in predicting the biological course of proliferative adrenal cortex lesions, although by themselves they are not bona-fide discriminators.</p>