Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) are a rare group of cancers with heterogeneous behaviour and mostly of unknown aetiology. Excluding some infrequent hereditary cancer syndromes, the extent and clinical significance of mutations in other cancer predisposing genes (CPGs) are not known. We aimed to investigate the frequency of pathogenic and likely germline pathogenic variants (GPVs) in known CPGs in young adults with NEN and the clinical and molecular characteristics of these patients. We recruited 108 patients with lung or digestive NEN diagnosed between 18 and 50 years and performed targeted sequencing of 113 CPGs on germline DNA. For some patients, tumour features such as loss of heterozygosity (LOH), tumour mutation burden and microsatellite instability were evaluated. GPVs were detected in 17 patients (15.7%). Median age, sex, stage at diagnosis, family history of NENs or any personal history of neoplasm were similar between patients with or without GPVs. GPV carriers had more gastric (P = 0.084), functioning NEN (P = 0.041), positive family history of cancer (P = 0.015) and exclusively well-differentiated histology. Genes affected were mostly involved in DNA repair (CHEK2, ERCC2, ERCC3, XPC, MSH6, POLE and SLX4), with most GPVs found in MUTYH (four cases). LOH was performed in eight tumours and detected only in an SLX4-positive case. Overall, our findings indicate a role of inherited genetic alterations, particularly in DNA repair genes, in NEN carcinogenesis in young adults. These patients more often had a family history of cancer and functioning NENs.
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