Adrenal Gland, Cortex - Atrophy

Image of atrophy in the adrenal gland cortex from a female Sprague-Dawley rat in a chronic study
Adrenal gland, Cortex - Atrophy in a female Sprague-Dawley rat from a chronic study. The width of the cortex (C) and the overall size of the gland are decreased; the capsule (arrow) is thickened by fibrosis. M = medulla.
Figure 1 of 4
Image of atrophy in the adrenal gland cortex from a female Sprague-Dawley rat in a chronic study
Adrenal gland, Cortex - Atrophy in a female Sprague-Dawley rat from a chronic study (higher magnification of Figure 1). The width of the zona fasciculata is decreased, and the cell nuclei in the outer zona fasciculata are crowded, suggesting a decrease in size. C = cortex, M = medulla.
Figure 2 of 4
Image of atrophy in the adrenal gland cortex from a female Sprague-Dawley rat in a chronic study
Adrenal gland, Cortex - Normal in a female Sprague-Dawley rat from a chronic study. A normal adrenal gland at the same magnification as Figure 1 is shown for comparison. C = cortex, M = medulla.
Figure 3 of 4
Image of atrophy in the adrenal gland cortex from a female Sprague-Dawley rat in a chronic study
Adrenal gland, Cortex - Normal in a female Sprague-Dawley rat from a chronic study. A normal adrenal gland at the same magnification as Figure 2 is shown for comparison. C = cortex, M = medulla.
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comment:

Adrenal cortical atrophy ( Figure 1image opens in a pop-up window and Figure 2image opens in a pop-up window ) may be focal or diffuse. Compared with the normal adrenal cortex ( Figure 3image opens in a pop-up window and Figure 4image opens in a pop-up window ), the atrophic cortex is characterized by reduced thickness of the one or more of the cortical layers due to a decrease in cell size or a loss of cells. The zonae fasciculata and reticularis are more often affected than the zona glomerulosa. There is variably decreased overall size of the gland, often with distortion of the gland outline. The glandular capsule may be thickened due to fibrosis ( Figure 1image opens in a pop-up window and Figure 2image opens in a pop-up window ).

Causes of adrenal cortical atrophy in rats and mice include any factor that increases levels of glucocorticoids, such as exogenous administration or endogenous hypersecretion by a functional adrenocortical neoplasm in the same or contralateral gland, which secondarily results in decreased adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) levels. Atrophy can also result from more direct ACTH deficiency, such as may occur with abnormal pituitary function. Cortical atrophy can also be a direct effect of exogenous toxicants that interfere with normal adrenocortical steroidogenesis and/or the physiologic effects of the renin-angiotensin system on the adrenal. Because of the complex physiologic interactions of hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and gonads with the adrenal gland, other exogenous toxicants and experimental manipulations that directly damage these tissues or modulate their secretory functions can result in secondary effects in the adrenal cortex, including atrophy. Cortical atrophy may also be a sequela to other pathologic processes, such as degeneration or necrosis, and may also be concurrent with cytoplasmic vacuolization or pigment accumulation.

recommendation:

Adrenal cortical atrophy should be diagnosed and assigned a severity grade and distribution modifier (i.e., focal, diffuse). Associated lesions (e.g., cortical degeneration or capsular fibrosis) should not be diagnosed separately unless warranted by severity. If atrophy is seen in both adrenal glands, the modifier "bilateral" should be added to the diagnosis (lesions are assumed to be unilateral unless otherwise indicated).

references:

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Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6285687

Dunn TB. 1970. Normal and pathologic anatomy of the adrenal gland of the mouse, including neoplasms. J Natl Cancer Inst 44:1323-1389.
Abstract: http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/44/6/1323.abstract

Hamlin MH, Banas DA. 1990. Adrenal gland. In: Pathology of the Fischer Rat: Reference and Atlas (Boorman GA, Eustis SL, Elwell MR, Montgomery CA, MacKenzie WF, eds). Academic Press, San Diego, 501-518.
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McEwan PE, Lindop GB, Kenyon CJ. 1996. Control of cell proliferation in the rat adrenal gland in vivo by the renin-angiotensin system. Am J Physiol (Endocrinol Metab) 34:E192-E198.
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Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21540174

National Toxicology Program. 2010. NTP TR-559. Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of 2,3',4,4',5-Pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB 118) (CAS No. 31508-00-6) in Female Harlan Sprague-Dawley Rats (Gavage Studies). NTP, Research Triangle Park, NC.
Abstract: http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/33539

Rosol TJ, Yarrington JT, Latendresse J, Capen CC. 2001. Adrenal gland: Structure, function, and mechanisms of toxicity. Toxicol Pathol 29:41-48.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11215683

Stachiwiak A, Macchi C, Nussdorfer GG, Malendowicz LK. 1995. Effects of oxytocin on the function and morphology of the rat adrenal cortex: In vitro and in vivo investigations. Res Exp Med 195:265-274.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8578002