Background/Aim: Increased dopamine production may be a feature of head and neck paraganglioma (HNPGL). 18F-fluorodihydroxyphenylalanine positron emission tomography scintigraphy has a high sensitivity for detecting HNPGLs. These observations strongly suggest that HNPGLs have the capacity for L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine uptake and conversion towards dopamine. Therefore, our aim was to demonstrate the presence of catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes, i.e. tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) and dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) in HNPGL tissue. Methods: A single-center study was performed among patients who underwent surgery for HNPGL at a single university referral center between 1994 and 2012. HNPGL tissue was immunohistochemically stained for TH, AADC and DBH. Data on paraganglioma-associated germline mutations, preoperative biochemical phenotype and imaging studies were retrieved. Catecholamine excess was defined as preoperative plasma and/or urinary levels of metanephrine, normetanephrine or 3-methoxytyramine above the upper reference limit. Results: Nineteen HNPGLs from 18 patients were evaluated. All tumor tissues (100%) stained positive for AADC, 6 (32%) for TH and 2 (11%) for DBH. Of 3 HNPGLs staining positive for DBH, 2 were also positive for AADC and TH. Catecholamine excess was only present in 1 patient (5%). The HNPGLs of this single patient only showed positive staining for AADC. Conclusions: Catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes, in particular AADC, are expressed in the majority of HNPGL tissues.

Aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase, Dopamine β-hydroxylase, Head and neck paragangliomas, Tyrosine hydroxylase,
Neuroendocrinology: international journal for basic and clinical studies on neuroendocrine relationships
Department of Pathology

Osinga, T.E, Korpershoek, E, de Krijger, R.R, Kerstens, M.N, Dullaart, R.P.F, Kema, I.P, … Links, T.P. (2015). Catecholamine-Synthesizing Enzymes Are Expressed in Parasympathetic Head and Neck Paraganglioma Tissue. Neuroendocrinology: international journal for basic and clinical studies on neuroendocrine relationships, 101(4), 289–295. doi:10.1159/000377703