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adrenal cytomegaly

Wednesday 18 January 2006


Definition: Adrenal cytomegaly is characterized by the presence of large polyhedral cells with eosinophilic granular cytoplasm and enlarged nuclei in the adrenal cortex. Adrenal cytomegaly is found in 0.8% pediatric autopsies.

Adrenal cytomegaly is relatively common finding within fetal cortex in newborns, particularly premature infants (3-7%) or infants with Rh incompatibility.

Adrenal cytomegaly may be associated with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome

Focal adrenal cytomegaly can be observed in normal adults (3778124)


- hyperplastic adrenal glands


- numerous markedly enlarged (up to 150 microns) and bizarre polyhedral cells with eosinophilic granular cytoplasm and large hyperchromatic nuclei with pseudoinclusions in adrenal cortex.

- large polyhedral cells in the adrenal cortex

  • eosinophilic granular cytoplasm
  • enlarged nuclei

- false intranuclear inclusions (6264884)
- no/rare mitotic figures

Electron microscopy

- nuclear inclusions composed of the invaginated portion of the cytoplasm surrounded by double membrane and contained numerous organelles. (6264884)

Etiology (Exemples)

- Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (1849635, 2845376)
- isolated (3778124, 3838445)


- diaphragmatic hernia (10879233)
- premature infants (3-7%)
- infants with Rh incompatibility

Case records

- Case #10479

Differential diagnosis

- adrenal CMV infection

  • usually infants
  • basophilic cytoplasm
  • large intranuclear inclusion surrounded by a clear halo

Paywall References

- Ong BB, Wong KT. Adrenal cytomegaly associated with diaphragmatic hernia: report of a case.Malays J Pathol. 1996 Dec;18(2):121-3. PMID: 10879233

- Fasano M, Greco MA. Proliferative activity of adrenal glands with adrenocortical cytomegaly measured by MIB-1 labeling index. Pediatr Pathol Lab Med. 1996 Sep-Oct;16(5):765-76. PMID: 9025875

- Favara BE, Steele A, Grant JH, Steele P. Adrenal cytomegaly: quantitative assessment by image analysis. Pediatr Pathol. 1991 Jul-Aug;11(4):521-36. PMID: 1946074

- Camuto PM, Wolman SR, Perle MA, Greco MA. Flow cytometry of fetal adrenal glands with adrenocortical cytomegaly. Pediatr Pathol. 1989;9(5):551-8. PMID: 2813201

- Yamashina M. Focal adrenocortical cytomegaly observed in two adult cases. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1986 Nov;110(11):1072-5. PMID: 3778124

- Feuerstein IM, Tiamson EM. Focal cytomegaly of the adult adrenal cortex. A rare variant of black adenoma. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1985 Feb;109(2):198-200. PMID: 3838445

- Nakamura Y, Yano H, Nakashima T. False intranuclear inclusions in adrenal cytomegaly. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1981 Jul;105(7):358-60. PMID: 6264884

- Gau GS, Bennett MJ. Fetal adrenal cytomegaly. J Clin Pathol. 1979 Mar;32(3):305-6. PMID: 429599

- Marsden HB, Zakhour HD. Cytomegalic adrenal hypoplasia with pituitary cytomegaly. Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histol. 1978 Jun 2;378(2):105-10. PMID: 149412

- Mamelle JC, David M, Riou D, Gilly J, Trouillas J, Dutruge J, Gilly R. [Congenital adrenal hypoplasia of cytomegalic type. Recessive, sex-linked form. Apropos of 3 cases] Arch Fr Pediatr. 1975 Feb;32(2):139-59. French. PMID: 1217948

- Aterman K, Kerenyi N, Lee M. Adrenal cytomegaly. Virchows Arch A Pathol Pathol Anat. 1972;355(2):105–122.

- Niggemeyer H, Sandhage K. [Thymus gland hyperplasia: congenital, in association with adrenal gland hypoplasia and cytomegaly or myocarditis respectively]. Klin Padiatr. 1972 Nov;184(6):501-7. PMID: 4346363

- Borit A, Kosek J. Cytomegaly of the adrenal cortex. Electron microscopy in Beckwith’s syndrome. Arch Pathol. 1969 Jul;88(1):58-64. PMID: 5793692

- Birdwell TR, Dimmette RM. Cytomegaly of the adrenal gland. An interesting finding: report of three cases. Am J Clin Pathol. 1967 May;47(5):585–587.