Genetically engineered human pituitary corticotroph tumor organoids exhibit divergent responses to glucocorticoid receptor modulators

Saptarshi Mallick, Jayati Chakrabarti, Jennifer Eschbacher, Andreas G. Moraitis, Andrew E. Greenstein, Jared Churko, Kelvin W. Pond, Antonia Livolsi, Curtis A. Thorne, Andrew S. Little, Kevin C.J. Yuen, Yana Zavros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cushing's disease (CD) is a serious endocrine disorder attributed to an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary neuroendocrine tumor (PitNET) that that subsequently leads to chronic hypercortisolemia. PitNET regression has been reported following treatment with the investigational selective glucocorticoid receptor (GR) modulator relacorilant, but the mechanisms behind that effect remain unknown. Human PitNET organoid models were generated from induced human pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) or fresh tissue obtained from CD patient PitNETs (hPITOs). Genetically engineered iPSC derived organoids were used to model the development of corticotroph PitNETs expressing USP48 (iPSCUSP48) or USP8 (iPSCUSP8) somatic mutations. Organoids were treated with the GR antagonist mifepristone or the GR modulator relacorilant with or without somatostatin receptor (SSTR) agonists pasireotide or octreotide. In iPSCUSP48 and iPSCUSP8 cultures, mifepristone induced a predominant expression of SSTR2 with a concomitant increase in ACTH secretion and tumor cell proliferation. Relacorilant predominantly induced SSTR5 expression and tumor cell apoptosis with minimal ACTH induction. Hedgehog signaling mediated the induction of SSTR2 and SSTR5 in response to mifepristone and relacorilant. Relacorilant sensitized PitNET organoid responsiveness to pasireotide. Therefore, our study identified the potential therapeutic use of relacorilant in combination with somatostatin analogs and demonstrated the advantages of relacorilant over mifepristone, supporting its further development for use in the treatment of Cushing's disease patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-72
Number of pages17
JournalTranslational Research
StatePublished - Jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry, medical


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