Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Endothelin (ET)-1 is a 21-amino acid peptide with potent vasopressor and vasocontrictive properties. Biochemical studies suggest that this peptide occurs in adrenal glands, where it influences steroid hormone production. However, we have found no report of the topographical distribution of this peptide. The localization of ET-1 immunoreactivity in non-neoplastic (37 cases) and neoplastic adrenal glands (48 cases) was investigated with a sensitive immunohistochemical technique applied to routinely processed tissue specimens. ET-1 immunoreactivity was regularly seen in the cortex, especially in the zona fasciculata and to a varying extent also in the other two zones, but not in the medulla. The immunoreactive material appeared in the cytoplasm mostly in the form of vacuolar structures but also as grains. Focally, the cell membrane also showed immunoreactive staining. In the zona reticularis the immunoreactivity appeared mainly as cytoplasmic grains. Most cortical adenomas displayed numerous immunoreactive cells. The immunoreactivity in the tumour tissue appeared in the same forms as in normal cortex, but the reactive products were generally fewer in number. No obvious differences in immunostaining were seen between the aldosterone- and cortisol-producing adenomas or the non-functioning ones. Three of the ten carcinomas contained immunoreactive cells, but they were few, appearing focally and the ET-1 immunoreactive structures were seen as ‘dust-like’ material. The difference in immunoreactivity between the benign and the malignant cortical neoplasms may be of diagnostic value. Functionally our results support a relationship between ET-1 and steroid regulation in non-neoplastic cortical tissue.
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