Differential expression of erythropoietin and its receptor in von Hippel-Lindau-associated and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2-associated pheochromocytomas

Timothy W.A. Vogel, Frederieke M. Brouwers, Irina A. Lubensky, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Robert J. Weil, McClellan M. Walther, Edward H. Oldfield, W. Marston Linehan, Karel Pacak, Zhengping Zhuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


Pheochromocytoma is a neuroendocrine tumor associated with a variety of genetic disorders, which include von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL), multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2), neurofibromatosis type 1, hereditary paraganglioma, and succinate dehydrogenase gene-related tumors. Previous studies of VHL-associated and MEN 2-associated pheochromocytomas suggest morphological, biochemical, and clinical differences exist among the tumors, but the process by which they develop remains unclear. Studies in other VHL-associated tumors suggest that VHL gene deficiency causes coexpression of erythropoietin (Epo) and its receptor (Epo-R), which facilitates tumor growth. The objective of this study was to understand the different process of tumorigenesis for VHL and MEN 2-associated pheochromocytomas. Ten pheochromocytomas (VHL patients n = 5, MEN 2 patients n = 5) were examined for the presence or absence of Epo and Epo-R using Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and RT-PCR analyses. Coexpression of Epo and Epo-R was found in all five VHL-associated pheochromocytomas; in contrast, expression of Epo-R, but not Epo, was documented in all five MEN 2-associated pheochromocytomas. Expression of Epo appears to be a result of VHL gene deficiency, possibly through activation of the hypoxia inducible factor-1 pathway, whereas Epo-R is an embryonal marker whose sustained expression in both VHL- and MEN 2-associated pheochromocytomas reflects an arrest or defect in development. These findings suggest an alternative process of tumorigenesis in VHL- and MEN 2-associated pheochromocytomas and implicate Epo as a clinical biomarker to differentiate these tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3747-3751
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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