Characteristics of pediatric vs adult pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas

Christina Pamporaki*, Barbora Hamplova, Mirko Peitzsch, Aleksander Prejbisz, Felix Beuschlein, Henri J.L.M. Timmers, Martin Fassnacht, Barbara Klink, Maya Lodish, Constantine A. Stratakis, Angela Huebner, Stephanie Fliedner, Mercedes Robledo, Richard O. Sinnott, Andrzej Januszewicz, Karel Pacak, Graeme Eisenhofer

*Corresponding author for this work
17 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) in children are often hereditary and may present with different characteristics compared with adults. Hereditary PPGLs can be separated into cluster 1 and cluster 2 tumors due to mutations impacting hypoxia and kinase receptor signaling pathways, respectively. Objective: To identify differences in presentation of PPGLs between children and adults. Design: A retrospective cross-sectional clinical study. Setting: Seven tertiary medical centers. Patients: The study included 748 patients with PPGLs, including 95 with a first presentation during childhood. Genetic testing was available in 611 patients. Other data included locations of primary tumors, presence of recurrent or metastatic disease, and plasma concentrations of metanephrines and 3-methoxytyramine. Results: Children showed higher (P<0.0001) prevalence than adults of hereditary (80.4% vs 52.6%), extra-adrenal (66.3% vs 35.1%), multifocal (32.6% vs 13.5%), metastatic (49.5% vs 29.1%), and recurrent (29.5% vs 14.2%) PPGLs. Tumors due to cluster 1 mutations were more prevalent among children than adults (76.1% vs 39.3%; P < 0.0001), and this paralleled a higher prevalence of noradrenergic tumors, characterized by relative lack of increased plasma metanephrine, in children than in adults (93.2% vs 57.3%; P < 0.0001). Conclusions: The higher prevalence of hereditary, extra-adrenal, multifocal, and metastatic PPGLs in children than adults represents interrelated features that, in part, reflect the lower age of disease presentation of noradrenergic cluster 1 than adrenergic cluster 2 tumors. The differences in disease presentation are important to consider in children at risk for PPGLs due to a known mutation or previous history of tumor.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1122-1132
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2017

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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