What are the Causes of Pheochromocytomas?


Researchers by far have not found the exact causes behind pheochromocytomas. The tumor develops in specialized cells, known as chromaffin cells, located in the center of an adrenal gland. These cells release certain hormones, mostly adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine), that help control many body functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar.

Role of Hormones

Adrenaline and noradrenaline are hormones that can trigger your body’s fight-or-flight response to a threat. The hormones function in prompting higher blood pressure, a faster heart rate and a boost in other body systems that enable you to react quickly. A pheochromocytoma results in the irregular and excessive release of these hormones.

Risk factors
People with rare inherited disorders have an increased risk of developing a pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma. Moreover, tumors associated with these disorders are more likely to be cancerous. These genetic conditions include the following:

  • Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) results in multiple tumors in the skin (neurofibromas), pigmented skin spots and tumors of the optic nerve.
  • Hereditary paraganglioma syndromes are inherited disorders that result in either pheochromocytomas or paragangliomas.
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia, type II (MEN II) is a disorder resulting in tumors in more than one part of the body’s hormone-producing (endocrine) system. Other tumors associated with MEN II can occur on the thyroid, parathyroid, lips, tongue and gastrointestinal tract.
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease can result in tumors at multiple sites, including the central nervous system, endocrine system, pancreas and kidneys.

Keywords: causes pheochromocytoma; pheochromocytoma causes

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.