Genetics and imaging of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas: current update

Venkata S. Katabathina, Hamid Rajebi, Melissa Chen, Carlos S. Restrepo, Umber Salman, Raghu Vikram, Christine O. Menias, Srinivasa R. Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Pheochromocytomas (PCCs) and paragangliomas (PGLs) are rare, heterogeneous neuroendocrine neoplasms of the autonomous nervous system of chromaffin cell origin that may arise within the adrenal medulla (PCCs) or the sympathetic and parasympathetic paraganglia (PGLs). Currently referred to by the umbrella term pheochromocytomas–paragangliomas (PPGLs), these distinct tumors are characterized by specific histopathology as well as biological and clinical profiles. PPGLs may occur as part of hereditary syndromes (40% of cases) or as sporadic tumors. Currently, there are 12 different hereditary syndromes with characteristic genetic abnormalities, at least 15 well-characterized driver genes and distinct tumor metabolic pathways. Based on the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) taxonomic schemata, PPGLs have been classified into three main clusters of specific genetic mutations and tumor pathways with clinical, biochemical, and prognostic implications. Imaging plays a pivotal role in the initial diagnosis, tumor characterization, evaluation of treatment response, and long-term surveillance. While MDCT and MRI help in the anatomic localization, SPECT, and PET using different radiotracers are crucial in the functional assessment of these tumors. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy are currently available treatment options for PPGLs; antiangiogenic drugs are also being used in treating metastatic disease. Evolving knowledge regarding the different genetic abnormalities involved in the pathogenesis of PPGLs has identified potential therapeutic targets that may be utilized in the discovery of novel drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-944
Number of pages17
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Genetic syndromes
  • Paraganglioma
  • Pheochromocytoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'Genetics and imaging of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas: current update'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this