Pheochromocytomas (PHEOs) are rare neoplasms that produce catecholamines and usually arise from the adrenal medulla and are considered to be an adrenal paraganglioma (PGL). Closely related tumors of extraadrenal sympathetic and parasympathetic paraganglia are classified as extraadrenal PGLs. Most PHEOs are sporadic, but a significant percentage (∼25%) may be found in patients with germline mutations of genes predisposing to the development of von Hippel–Lindau disease, neurofibromatosis 1, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and 2 (MEN2), and the PGL/PHEOs syndrome, based on the described mutations of the genes for succinate dehydrogenase subunit D (SDHD), B (SDHB), and C (SDHC). As one out of four PHEOs turns out to be a hereditary clinical entity, screening for genetic alterations is important, as it provides useful information for a rational diagnostic approach and management. This review discusses the genetics, the pathophysiology of hypertension, the clinical picture, the biochemical and imaging diagnosis, and the preferred therapeutic approach for PGLs/PHEOs. Furthermore, it emphasizes the need for genetic testing in cases with apparently sporadic PHEOs.
Asterios Karagiannis, Dimitri P Mikhailidis, Vasilios G Athyros, and Faidon Harsoulis
Asterios Karagiannis, Konstantinos Tziomalos, Anna I Kakafika, Vasilios G Athyros, Faidon Harsoulis, and Dimitri P Mikhailidis
Primary aldosteronism (PA) and, in particular, its two commonest subtypes (i.e. idiopathic hyperaldosteronism (IHA) and aldosterone-producing adenoma (APA)) have been recognized as the most common cause of secondary hypertension. While ‘conservative’ medical treatment with aldosterone receptor antagonists is the therapeutic approach of choice in controlling blood pressure in patients with PA due to IHA, the more invasive (laparoscopic) adrenalectomy seems to be the most suitable therapy for patients with APA. In this review, we focus on the medical approach for the management of APA in cases where surgical excision of the adrenal is not possible.