, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 183–193 | Cite as

Silent corticotroph adenomas

  • Anat Ben-Shlomo
  • Odelia Cooper



Silent corticotroph adenomas (SCAs) present clinically as non-functioning adenomas (NFAs) but are immunopositive for adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) without biochemical and clinical manifestation of hypercortisolism. Pathologic examination of resected NFAs that demonstrate positive ACTH and/or TPIT expression confirms its corticotroph lineage. SCAs comprise up to 20% of NFAs and exhibit a higher rate of recurrence. Studies of molecular mechanisms have generated multiple hypotheses on SCA tumorigenesis, pathophysiology, and growth that as yet remain to be proven. An improved understanding of their pathologic and clinical characteristics is needed.


A literature review was performed using PubMed to identify research reports and clinical case series on SCAs.


Up to date findings regarding epidemiology, mechanisms of pathogenesis, differentiation, progression, and growth, as well as clinical presentation, postoperative course, and treatment options for patients with SCAs are presented. Pooled results demonstrate that 25–40% of cases show cavernous sinus invasion, preoperative hypopituitarism, new-onset hypopituitarism, and recurrence.


This article reviews the incidence, molecular pathology, and clinical behavior of these unique non-functioning pituitary corticotroph adenomas, and highlights the need for rigorous monitoring for recurrences and hypopituitarism in patients with SCAs.


Silent corticotroph Cushing Pituitary adenoma Nonfunctioning 



We thank Ms. Shira Berman for assistance with manuscript preparation.


This work was supported by NIH grant R21 DK105405 (O. Cooper). Support was provided by the Doris Factor Molecular Endocrinology Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The funding sources had no role in study design, data analysis, or decision to publish.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pituitary Center, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and MetabolismCedars-Sinai Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA

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