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Open access

N Tufton, R J Hearnden, D M Berney, W M Drake, L Parvanta, J P Chapple, and S A Akker

Emerging evidence suggests the composition of the tumour microenvironment (TME) correlates with clinical outcome and that each tumour type has a unique TME including a variable population of inflammatory cells. We performed immunohistochemistry on 65 phaeochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PPGL) tumour samples with 20 normal adrenal medulla samples for comparison. The immune cells assessed were macrophages, lymphocytes and neutrophils, and we compared the proportion of infiltration of these immune cells with clinical and histopathological factors. There was a higher proportion of immune cells in tumour tissue compared to non-neoplastic adrenal medulla tissue, with a predominance of macrophages. There was a higher proportion of M2:M1 macrophages and T-helper lymphocytes in aggressive tumours compared to indolent ones. For SDHB-associated tumours, there was a higher proportion of M2 macrophage infiltration, with higher M2:M1 in aggressive SDHB PPGLs compared to indolent tumours. These data demonstrate that immune cells do infiltrate the TME of PPGLs, confirming that PPGLs are immunologically active tumours. Differences in the TME of PPGLs were observed between aggressive and indolent tumours. These differences could potentially be exploited as an aid in predicting tumour behaviour.

Open access

Sasha R Howard, Sarah Freeston, Barney Harrison, Louise Izatt, Sonali Natu, Kate Newbold, Sabine Pomplun, Helen A Spoudeas, Sophie Wilne, Tom R Kurzawinski, and Mark N Gaze

This guideline is written as a reference document for clinicians presented with the challenge of managing paediatric patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma up to the age of 19 years. Care of paediatric patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma differs in key aspects from that of adults, and there have been several recent developments in the care pathways for this condition; this guideline has sought to identify and attend to these areas. It addresses the presentation, clinical assessment, diagnosis, management (both surgical and medical), genetic counselling, follow-up and prognosis of affected patients. The guideline development group formed of a multi-disciplinary panel of sub-speciality experts carried out a systematic primary literature review and Delphi Consensus exercise. The guideline was developed in accordance with The Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation Instrument II criteria, with input from stakeholders including charities and patient groups. Based on scientific evidence and expert opinion, 58 recommendations have been collected to produce a clear, pragmatic set of management guidelines. It is intended as an evidence base for future optimal management and to improve the quality of clinical care of paediatric patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma.

Open access

Kreepa G Kooblall, Victoria J Stokes, Omair A Shariq, Katherine A English, Mark Stevenson, John Broxholme, Benjamin Wright, Helen E Lockstone, David Buck, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Christopher J Yates, Rajesh V Thakker, and Kate E Lines

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), caused by mutations in the MEN1 gene encoding menin, is an autosomal dominant disorder characterised by the combined occurrence of parathyroid, pituitary and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). Development of these tumours is associated with wide variations in their severity, order and ages (from <5 to >80 years), requiring life-long screening. To improve tumour surveillance and quality of life, better circulating biomarkers, particularly for pancreatic NETs that are associated with higher mortality, are required. We, therefore, examined the expression of circulating miRNA in the serum of MEN1 patients. Initial profiling analysis followed by qRT-PCR validation studies identified miR-3156-5p to be significantly downregulated (−1.3 to 5.8-fold, P < 0.05–0.0005) in nine MEN1 patients, compared to matched unaffected relatives. MEN1 knock-down experiments in BON-1 human pancreatic NET cells resulted in reduced MEN1 (49%, P < 0.05), menin (54%, P < 0.05) and miR-3156-5p expression (20%, P < 0.005), compared to control-treated cells, suggesting that miR-3156-5p downregulation is a consequence of loss of MEN1 expression. In silico analysis identified mortality factor 4-like 2 (MOR4FL2) as a potential target of miR-3156-5p, and in vitro functional studies in BON-1 cells transfected with either miR-3156-5p mimic or inhibitors showed that the miR-3156-5p mimic significantly reduced MORF4L2 protein expression (46%, P < 0.005), while miR-3156-5p inhibitor significantly increased MORF4L2 expression (1.5-fold, P < 0.05), compared to control-treated cells, thereby confirming that miR-3156-5p regulates MORF4L2 expression. Thus, the inverse relationship between miR-3156-5p and MORF4L2 expression represents a potential serum biomarker that could facilitate the detection of NET occurrence in MEN1 patients.

Open access

Paul Benjamin Loughrey, Federico Roncaroli, Estelle Healy, Philip Weir, Madhu Basetti, Ruth T Casey, Steven J Hunter, and Márta Korbonits

Pituitary neuroendocrine tumours (PitNETs) associated with paragangliomas or phaeochromocytomas are rare. SDHx variants are estimated to be associated with 0.3–1.8% of PitNETs. Only a few case reports have documented the association with MAX variants. Prolactinomas are the most common PitNETs occurring in patients with SDHx variants, followed by somatotrophinomas, clinically non-functioning tumours and corticotrophinomas. One pituitary carcinoma has been described. SDHC, SDHB and SDHA mutations are inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion and tumorigenesis seems to adhere to Knudson’s two-hit hypothesis. SDHD and SDHAF2 mutations most commonly have paternal inheritance. Immunohistochemistry for SDHB or MAX and loss of heterozygosity analysis can support the assessment of pathogenicity of the variants. Metabolomics is promising in the diagnosis of SDHx-related disease. Future research should aim to further clarify the role of SDHx and MAX variants or other genes in the molecular pathogenesis of PitNETs, including pseudohypoxic and kinase signalling pathways along with elucidating epigenetic mechanisms to predict tumour behaviour.

Open access

Anastasia Alataki and Mitch Dowsett

Endocrine therapies are the main treatment strategies for the clinical management of hormone-dependent breast cancer. Despite prolonged time to recurrence in the adjuvant setting and the initial clinical responses in the metastatic setting, many patients eventually encounter tumour relapse due to acquired resistance to these agents. Other patients experience a lack of tumour regression at the beginning of treatment indicating de novo resistance that significantly limits its efficacy in the clinic. There is compelling evidence that human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) overexpression contributes to resistance to endocrine therapies in oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. ER+/HER2+ tumours comprise about 10% of all breast cancer cases and about 60% of the whole set of HER2+ tumours. Most patients with primary ER+/HER2+ disease will receive antibody-based HER2-targeted therapy, but this is generally for no more than one year while endocrine treatment is usually for at least 5 years. A number of HER2-kinase inhibitors are also now in clinical use or in clinical trials, and the interaction of these with endocrine treatment may differ from that of antibody treatment. In this review article, we aim to summarise knowledge on molecular mechanisms of breast cancer resistance to endocrine therapies attributable to the impact of HER2 signalling on endocrine sensitivity, to discuss data from clinical trials addressing the role of HER2 in the development of endocrine resistance in the metastatic, neoadjuvant and adjuvant settings and to explore rational new therapeutic strategies.

Open access

Adriana Albani, Luis Gustavo Perez-Rivas, Sicheng Tang, Julia Simon, Kristin Elisabeth Lucia, Paula Colón-Bolea, Jochen Schopohl, Sigrun Roeber, Michael Buchfelder, Roman Rotermund, Jörg Flitsch, Jun Thorsteinsdottir, Jochen Herms, Günter Stalla, Martin Reincke, and Marily Theodoropoulou

Cushing’s disease is a rare but devastating and difficult to manage condition. The somatostatin analogue pasireotide is the only pituitary-targeting pharmaceutical approved for the treatment of Cushing’s disease but is accompanied by varying efficacy and potentially severe side effects. Finding means to predict which patients are more likely to benefit from this treatment may improve their management. More than half of corticotroph tumours harbour mutations in the USP8 gene, and there is evidence of higher somatostatin receptor 5 (SSTR5) expression in the USP8-mutant tumours. Pasireotide has a high affinity for SSTR5, indicating that these tumours may be more sensitive to treatment. To test this hypothesis, we examined the inhibitory action of pasireotide on adrenocorticotrophic hormone synthesis in primary cultures of human corticotroph tumour with assessed USP8 mutational status and in immortalized murine corticotroph tumour cells overexpressing human USP8 mutants frequent in Cushing’s disease. Our in vitro results demonstrate that pasireotide exerts a higher antisecretory response in USP8-mutant corticotroph tumours. Overexpressing USP8 mutants in a murine corticotroph tumour cell model increased endogenous somatostatin receptor 5 (Sstr5) transcription. The murine Sstr5 promoter has two binding sites for the activating protein 1 (AP-1) and USP8 mutants possibly to mediate their action by stimulating AP-1 transcriptional activity. Our data corroborate the USP8 mutational status as a potential marker of pasireotide response and describe a potential mechanism through which USP8 mutants may regulate SSTR5 gene expression.

Open access

Anna Angelousi, Aimee R Hayes, Eleftherios Chatzellis, Gregory A Kaltsas, and Ashley B Grossman

Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) is a rare malignancy comprising 1–2% of all thyroid cancers in the United States. Approximately 20% of cases are familial, secondary to a germline RET mutation, while the remaining 80% are sporadic and also harbour a somatic RET mutation in more than half of all cases. Up to 15–20% of patients will present with distant metastatic disease, and retrospective series report a 10-year survival of 10–40% from time of first metastasis. Historically, systemic therapies for metastatic MTC have been limited, and cytotoxic chemotherapy has demonstrated poor objective response rates. However, in the last decade, targeted therapies, particularly multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), have demonstrated prolonged progression-free survival in advanced and progressive MTC. Both cabozantinib and vandetanib have been approved as first-line treatment options in many countries; nevertheless, their use is limited by high toxicity rates and dose reductions are often necessary. New generation TKIs, such as selpercatinib or pralsetinib, that exhibit selective activity against RET, have recently been approved as a second-line treatment option, and they exhibit a more favourable side-effect profile. Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy or immune checkpoint inhibitors may also constitute potential therapeutic options in specific clinical settings. In this review, we aim to present all current therapeutic options available for patients with progressive MTC, as well as new or as yet experimental treatments.

Open access

William Beimers, Megan Braun, Kaleb Schwinefus, Keenan Pearson, Brandon Wilbanks, and Louis James Maher

A fascinating class of familial paraganglioma (PGL) neuroendocrine tumors is driven by the loss of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzyme succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) resulting in succinate accumulation as an oncometabolite and other metabolic derangements. Here, we exploit a Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast model of SDH loss where accumulating succinate, and possibly reactive oxygen species, poison a dioxygenase enzyme required for sulfur scavenging. Using this model, we performed a chemical suppression screen for compounds that relieve dioxygenase inhibition. After testing 1280 pharmaceutically active compounds, we identified meclofenoxate HCl and its hydrolysis product, dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), as suppressors of dioxygenase intoxication in SDH-loss yeast cells. We show that DMAE acts to alter metabolism so as to normalize the succinate:2-ketoglutarate ratio, improving dioxygenase function. This study raises the possibility that oncometabolite effects might be therapeutically suppressed by drugs that rewire metabolism to reduce the flux of carbon into pathological metabolic pathways.

Open access

Susan Richter, Bei Qiu, Mirthe Ghering, Carola Kunath, Georgiana Constantinescu, Charlotte Luths, Christina Pamporaki, Nicole Bechmann, Leah Meuter, Aleksandra Kwapiszewska, Timo Deutschbein, Svenja Nölting, Mirko Peitzsch, Mercedes Robledo, Aleksander Prejbisz, Karel Pacak, Volker Gudziol, Henri J L M Timmers, and Graeme Eisenhofer

Head and neck paragangliomas (HNPGLs) are tumors of parasympathetic origin that occur at variable locations and are often secondary to germline mutations in succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) subunit genes. Occasionally, these tumors produce catecholamines. Here, we assessed whether different locations of HNPGLs relate to the presence of SDHx mutations, catecholamine production and other presentations. In this multicenter study, we collected clinical and biochemical data from 244 patients with HNPGLs and 71 patients without HNPGLs. We clarified that jugulotympanic HNPGLs have distinct features. In particular, 88% of jugulotympanic HNPGLs arose in women, among whom only 24% occurred due to SDHx mutations compared to 55% in men. Jugulotympanic HNPGLs were also rarely bilateral, were of a smaller size and were less often metastatic compared to carotid body and vagal HNPGLs. Furthermore, we showed that plasma concentrations of methoxytyramine (MTY) were higher (P  < 0.0001) in patients with HNPGL than without HNPGL, whereas plasma normetanephrine did not differ. Only 3.7% of patients showed strong increases in plasma normetanephrine. Plasma MTY was positively related to tumor size but did not relate to the presence of SDHx mutations or tumor location. Our findings confirm that increases in plasma MTY represent the main catecholamine-related biochemical feature of patients with HNPGLs. We expect that more sensitive analytical methods will make biochemical testing of HNPGLs more practical in the future and enable more than the current 30% of patients to be identified with dopamine-producing HNPGLs. The sex-dependent differences in the development of HNPGLs may have relevance to the diagnosis, management and outcomes of these tumors.

Open access

Salma Kaochar, Aleksandra Rusin, Christopher Foley, Kimal Rajapakshe, Matthew Robertson, Darlene Skapura, Cammy Mason, Karen Berman De Ruiz, Alexey Mikhailovich Tyryshkin, Jenny Deng, Jin Na Shin, Warren Fiskus, Jianrong Dong, Shixia Huang, Nora M Navone, Christel M Davis, Erik A Ehli, Cristian Coarfa, and Nicholas Mitsiades

Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) remains highly lethal and in need of novel, actionable therapeutic targets. The pioneer factor GATA2 is a significant prostate cancer (PC) driver and is linked to poor prognosis. GATA2 directly promotes androgen receptor (AR) gene expression (both full-length and splice-variant) and facilitates AR binding to chromatin, recruitment of coregulators, and target gene transcription. Unfortunately, there is no clinically applicable GATA2 inhibitor available at the moment. Using a bioinformatics algorithm, we screened in silico 2650 clinically relevant drugs for a potential GATA2 inhibitor. Validation studies used cytotoxicity and proliferation assays, global gene expression analysis, RT-qPCR, reporter assay, reverse phase protein array analysis (RPPA), and immunoblotting. We examined target engagement via cellular thermal shift assay (CETSA), ChIP-qPCR, and GATA2 DNA-binding assay. We identified the vasodilator dilazep as a potential GATA2 inhibitor and confirmed on-target activity via CETSA. Dilazep exerted anticancer activity across a broad panel of GATA2-dependent PC cell lines in vitro and in a PDX model in vivo. Dilazep inhibited GATA2 recruitment to chromatin and suppressed the cell-cycle program, transcriptional programs driven by GATA2, AR, and c-MYC, and the expression of several oncogenic drivers, including AR, c-MYC, FOXM1, CENPF, EZH2, UBE2C, and RRM2, as well as of several mediators of metastasis, DNA damage repair, and stemness. In conclusion, we provide, via an extensive compendium of methodologies, proof-of-principle that a small molecule can inhibit GATA2 function and suppress its downstream AR, c-MYC, and other PC-driving effectors. We propose GATA2 as a therapeutic target in CRPC.