Immunocytochemical staining for human chorionic gonadotropin subunits does not predict malignancy in insulinomas

F. Graeme-Cook, G. Nardi, C. C. Compton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Insulinomas, the most common pancreatic endocrine tumors, produce a clinical syndrome of hyperinsulinism and hypoglycemia. Although the majority of insulinomas are benign, a significant proportion (4-16%) behave aggressively. Because malignant potential cannot be assessed adequately by histopathologic criteria, reliable serum and immunocytochemical markers for malignancy have been sought. Recent reports suggest that subunits of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are of prognostic value in pancreatic endocrine tumors. Elevated serum levels of either the α-subunit or β-subunit of hCG have been reported to be associated with malignancy in pancreatic endocrine tumors. Both hCG and its α-subunit have been demonstrated in malignant pancreatic endocrine tumors by immunohistochemistry. In this study, 17 insulinomas have been analyzed by immunohistochemistry using monospecific antibodies to both the α-subunit and β-subunit of hCG. Clinical follow-up was obtained in all cases, and four of the tumors proved to be malignant. Alpha-subunit immunoreactivity was found in only two tumors, both of which were benign. Immunoreactivity for the β-subunit was not found in any tumor. The authors' results indicate that for this subset of pancreatic endocrine tumors, staining for hCG subunits is of no value in predicting malignant behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-276
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
  • immunocytochemistry
  • insulinoma
  • pancreatic endocrine tumor (PET)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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