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Open access

Dawei Wu, Dongwei Lv, Ting Zhang, Lianying Guo, Fangli Ma, Caihua Zhang, Guofeng Lv and Lin Huang

Ewing sarcoma family tumors (ESFTs) are a group of aggressive and highly metastatic tumors lacking efficient therapies. Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) blockade is one of the most efficient targeting therapy for ESFTs. However, the appliance is obstructed by drug resistance and disease recurrence due to the activation of insulin receptor (IR) signaling induced by IGF1R blockade. Herein β-elemene, a compound derived from natural plants, exhibited a remarkable proliferation repression on ESFT cells, which was weakened by a caspase inhibitor Z-VAD. β-elemene in combination with IGF1R inhibitors enhanced markedly the repression on cellular proliferation and mTOR activation by IGF1R inhibitors and suppressed the PI3K phosphorylation induced by IGF1R inhibitors. To investigate the mechanisms, we focused on the effects of β-elemene on IR signaling pathway. β-elemene significantly suppressed the insulin-driven cell growth and the activation of mTOR and PI3K in tumor cells, while the toxicity to normal hepatocytes was much lower. Further, the phosphorylation of IR was found to be suppressed notably by β-elemene specifically in tumor cells other than normal hepatocytes. In addition, β-elemene inhibited the growth of ESFT xenografts in vivo, and the phosphorylation of IR and S6 ribosomal protein was significantly repressed in the β-elemene-treated xenografts. These data suggest that β-elemene targets IR phosphorylation to inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells specifically and enhance the effects of IGF1R inhibitors. Thus, this study provides evidence for novel approaches by β-elemene alone or in combination with IGF1R blockades in ESFTs and IR signaling hyperactivated tumors.

Open access

F Castinetti, F Albarel, F Archambeaud, J Bertherat, B Bouillet, P Buffier, C Briet, B Cariou, Ph Caron, O Chabre, Ph Chanson, C Cortet, C Do Cao, D Drui, M Haissaguerre, S Hescot, F Illouz, E Kuhn, N Lahlou, E Merlen, V Raverot, S Smati, B Verges and F Borson-Chazot

The management of cancer patients has changed due to the considerably more frequent use of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICPIs). However, the use of ICPI has a risk of side effects, particularly endocrine toxicity. Since the indications for ICPI are constantly expanding due to their efficacy, it is important that endocrinologists and oncologists know how to look for this type of toxicity and how to treat it when it arises. In view of this, the French Endocrine Society initiated the formulation of a consensus document on ICPI-related endocrine toxicity. In this paper, we will introduce data on the general pathophysiology of endocrine toxicity, and we will then outline expert opinion focusing primarily on methods for screening, management and monitoring for endocrine side effects in patients treated by ICPI. We will then look in turn at endocrinopathies that are induced by ICPI including dysthyroidism, hypophysitis, primary adrenal insufficiency and fulminant diabetes. In each chapter, expert opinion will be given on the diagnosis, management and monitoring for each complication. These expert opinions will also discuss the methodology for categorizing these side effects in oncology using ‘common terminology criteria for adverse events’ (CTCAE) and the difficulties in applying this to endocrine side effects in the case of these anti-cancer therapies. This is shown in particular by certain recommendations that are used for other side effects (high-dose corticosteroids, contraindicated in ICPI for example) and that cannot be considered as appropriate in the management of endocrine toxicity, as it usually does not require ICPI withdrawal or high-dose glucocorticoid intake.

Open access

Sung Gwe Ahn, Chang Ik Yoon, Jae Hoon Lee, Hye Sun Lee, So Eun Park, Yoon Jin Cha, Chihwan Cha, Soong June Bae, Kyung-A Lee and Joon Jeong

On the basis of TP53 mutations and standardized uptake values (SUVs) from 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (18F-FDG-PET), we sought to enhance our knowledge of the biology underlying low progesterone receptor (PR) expression in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2)-negative tumors. This study included 272 patients surgically treated for ER-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer and who had undergone TP53 gene sequencing. Of these, 229 patients also underwent 18F-FDG PET or PET/CT. Mutational analysis of exons 5–9 of the TP53 gene was conducted using PCR amplification and direct sequencing. The SUVs were measured using 18F-FDG-PET scan images. Twenty-eight (10.3%) tumors had a somatic TP53 mutation. The TP53 mutation rate was significantly higher in low-PR tumors than in high-PR tumors (17.1% vs 7.9%, P = 0.039). Low-PR tumors had significantly higher median SUVs than high-PR tumors (P = 0.046). The multivariable analysis revealed that SUV and age remained independent variables associated with low PR expression. An adverse impact of low PR expression on recurrence-free survival was observed in the multivariable Cox regression hazard model. We provide clinical evidence that genetic alteration of the TP53 gene and dysregulated glucose metabolism partly involve low PR expression in ER-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer.

Open access

Jonathan W Nyce

We recently reported our detection of an anthropoid primate-specific, ‘kill switch’ tumor suppression system that reached its greatest expression in humans, but that is fully functional only during the first twenty-five years of life, corresponding to the primitive human lifespan that has characterized the majority of our species' existence. This tumor suppression system is based upon the kill switch being triggered in cells in which p53 has been inactivated; such kill switch consisting of a rapid, catastrophic increase in ROS caused by the induction of irreversible uncompetitive inhibition of glucose-6- phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), which requires high concentrations of both inhibitor (DHEA) and G6P substrate. While high concentrations of intracellular DHEA are readily available in primates from the importation and subsequent de-sulfation of circulating DHEAS into p53-affected cells, both an anthropoid primate-specific sequence motif (GAAT) in the glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC) promoter, and primate-specific inactivation of de novo synthesis of vitamin C by deletion of gulonolactone oxidase (GLO) were required to enable accumulation of G6P to levels sufficient to enable irreversible uncompetitive inhibition of G6PD. Malignant transformation acts as a counterforce opposing vertebrate speciation, particularly increases in body size and lifespan that enable optimized exploitation of particular niches. Unique mechanisms of tumor suppression that evolved to enable niche exploitation distinguish vertebrate species, and prevent one vertebrate species from serving as a valid model system for another. This here-to-fore unrecognized element of speciation undermines decades of cancer research data, using murine species, which presumed universal mechanisms of tumor suppression, independent of species. Despite this setback, the potential for pharmacological reconstitution of the kill switch tumor suppression system that distinguishes our species suggests that ‘normalization’ of human cancer risk, from its current 40% to the 4% of virtually all other large, long-lived species, represents a realistic near-term goal.

Open access

Xianhui Ruan, Xianle Shi, Qiman Dong, Yang Yu, Xiukun Hou, Xinhao Song, Xi Wei, Lingyi Chen and Ming Gao

There is no effective treatment for patients with poorly differentiated papillary thyroid cancer or anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC). Anlotinib, a multi-kinase inhibitor, has already shown antitumor effects in various types of carcinoma in a phase I clinical trial. In this study, we aimed to better understand the effect and efficacy of anlotinib against thyroid carcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo. We found that anlotinib inhibits the cell viability of papillary thyroid cancer and ATC cell lines, likely due to abnormal spindle assembly, G2/M arrest, and activation of TP53 upon anlotinib treatment. Moreover, anlotinib suppresses the migration of thyroid cancer cells in vitro and the growth of xenograft thyroid tumors in mice. Our data demonstrate that anlotinib has significant anticancer activity in thyroid cancer, and potentially offers an effective therapeutic strategy for patients of advanced thyroid cancer type.

Open access

Simon Linder, Henk G van der Poel, Andries M Bergman, Wilbert Zwart and Stefan Prekovic

The androgen receptor drives the growth of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. This has led to the development of multiple novel drugs targeting this hormone-regulated transcription factor, such as enzalutamide – a potent androgen receptor antagonist. Despite the plethora of possible treatment options, the absolute survival benefit of each treatment separately is limited to a few months. Therefore, current research efforts are directed to determine the optimal sequence of therapies, discover novel drugs effective in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and define patient subpopulations that ultimately benefit from these treatments. Molecular studies provide evidence on which pathways mediate treatment resistance and may lead to improved treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. This review provides, firstly a concise overview of the clinical development, use and effectiveness of enzalutamide in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, secondly it describes translational research addressing enzalutamide response vs resistance and lastly highlights novel potential treatment strategies in the enzalutamide-resistant setting.

Open access

Milena Doroszko, Marcin Chrusciel, Joanna Stelmaszewska, Tomasz Slezak, Slawomir Anisimowicz, Ursula Plöckinger, Marcus Quinkler, Marco Bonomi, Slawomir Wolczynski, Ilpo Huhtaniemi, Jorma Toppari and Nafis A Rahman

Aberrantly expressed G protein-coupled receptors in tumors are considered as potential therapeutic targets. We analyzed the expressions of receptors of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GNRHR), luteinizing hormone/chorionic gonadotropin (LHCGR) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSHR) in human adrenocortical carcinomas and assessed their response to GnRH antagonist therapy. We further studied the effects of the GnRH antagonist cetrorelix acetate (CTX) on cultured adrenocortical tumor (ACT) cells (mouse Cα1 and Y-1, and human H295R), and in vivo in transgenic mice (SV40 T-antigen expression under inhibin α promoter) bearing Lhcgr and Gnrhr in ACT. Both models were treated with control (CT), CTX, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or CTX+hCG, and their growth and transcriptional changes were analyzed. In situ hybridization and qPCR analysis of human adrenocortical carcinomas (n = 11–13) showed expression of GNRHR in 54/73%, LHCGR in 77/100% and FSHR in 0%, respectively. CTX treatment in vitro decreased cell viability and proliferation, and increased caspase 3/7 activity in all treated cells. In vivo, CTX and CTX+hCG (but not hCG alone) decreased ACT weights and serum LH and progesterone concentrations. CTX treatment downregulated the tumor markers Lhcgr and Gata4. Upregulated genes included Grb10, Rerg, Nfatc and Gnas, all recently found to be abundantly expressed in healthy adrenal vs ACT. Our data suggest that CTX treatment may improve the therapy of human adrenocortical carcinomas by direct action on GNRHR-positive cancer cells inducing apoptosis and/or reducing gonadotropin release, directing tumor cells towards a healthy adrenal gene expression profile.

Open access

Paraskevi Xekouki, Emily J Lodge, Jakob Matschke, Alice Santambrogio, John R Apps, Ariane Sharif, Thomas S Jacques, Simon Aylwin, Vincent Prevot, Ran Li, Jörg Flitsch, Stefan R Bornstein, Marily Theodoropoulou and Cynthia L Andoniadou

Tumours of the anterior pituitary can manifest from all endocrine cell types but the mechanisms for determining their specification are not known. The Hippo kinase cascade is a crucial signalling pathway regulating growth and cell fate in numerous organs. There is mounting evidence implicating this in tumour formation, where it is emerging as an anti-cancer target. We previously demonstrated activity of the Hippo kinase cascade in the mouse pituitary and nuclear association of its effectors YAP/TAZ with SOX2-expressing pituitary stem cells. Here, we sought to investigate whether these components are expressed in the human pituitary and if they are deregulated in human pituitary tumours. Analysis of pathway components by immunofluorescence reveals pathway activity during normal human pituitary development and in the adult gland. Poorly differentiated pituitary tumours (null-cell adenomas, adamantinomatous craniopharyngiomas (ACPs) and papillary craniopharyngiomas (PCPs)), displayed enhanced expression of pathway effectors YAP/TAZ. In contrast, differentiated adenomas displayed lower or absent levels. Knockdown of the kinase-encoding Lats1 in GH3 rat mammosomatotropinoma cells suppressed Prl and Gh promoter activity following an increase in YAP/TAZ levels. In conclusion, we have demonstrated activity of the Hippo kinase cascade in the human pituitary and association of high YAP/TAZ with repression of the differentiated state both in vitro and in vivo. Characterisation of this pathway in pituitary tumours is of potential prognostic value, opening up putative avenues for treatments.

Open access

Samuel M O’Toole, David S Watson, Tatiana V Novoselova, Lisa E L Romano, Peter J King, Teisha Y Bradshaw, Clare L Thompson, Martin M Knight, Tyson V Sharp, Michael R Barnes, Umasuthan Srirangalingam, William M Drake and J Paul Chapple

Primary cilia are sensory organelles involved in regulation of cellular signaling. Cilia loss is frequently observed in tumors; yet, the responsible mechanisms and consequences for tumorigenesis remain unclear. We demonstrate that cilia structure and function is disrupted in human pheochromocytomas – endocrine tumors of the adrenal medulla. This is concomitant with transcriptional changes within cilia-mediated signaling pathways that are associated with tumorigenesis generally and pheochromocytomas specifically. Importantly, cilia loss was most dramatic in patients with germline mutations in the pseudohypoxia-linked genes SDHx and VHL. Using a pheochromocytoma cell line derived from rat, we show that hypoxia and oncometabolite-induced pseudohypoxia are key drivers of cilia loss and identify that this is dependent on activation of an Aurora-A/HDAC6 cilia resorption pathway. We also show cilia loss drives dramatic transcriptional changes associated with proliferation and tumorigenesis. Our data provide evidence for primary cilia dysfunction contributing to pathogenesis of pheochromocytoma by a hypoxic/pseudohypoxic mechanism and implicates oncometabolites as ciliary regulators. This is important as pheochromocytomas can cause mortality by mechanisms including catecholamine production and malignant transformation, while hypoxia is a general feature of solid tumors. Moreover, pseudohypoxia-induced cilia resorption can be pharmacologically inhibited, suggesting potential for therapeutic intervention.

Open access

Martin Ullrich, Josephine Liers, Mirko Peitzsch, Anja Feldmann, Ralf Bergmann, Ulrich Sommer, Susan Richter, Stefan R Bornstein, Michael Bachmann, Graeme Eisenhofer, Christian G Ziegler and Jens Pietzsch

Somatostatin receptor-targeting endoradiotherapy offers potential for treating metastatic pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas, an approach likely to benefit from combination radiosensitization therapy. To provide reliable preclinical in vivo models of metastatic disease, this study characterized the metastatic spread of luciferase-expressing mouse pheochromocytoma (MPC) cells in mouse strains with different immunologic conditions. Bioluminescence imaging showed that, in contrast to subcutaneous non-metastatic engraftment of luciferase-expressing MPC cells in NMRI-nude mice, intravenous cell injection provided only suboptimal metastatic spread in both NMRI-nude mice and hairless SCID (SHO) mice. Treatment of NMRI-nude mice with anti-Asialo GM1 serum enhanced metastatic spread due to substantial depletion of natural killer (NK) cells. However, reproducible metastatic spread was only observed in NK cell-defective SCID/beige mice and in hairless immunocompetent SKH1 mice bearing disseminated or liver metastases, respectively. Liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry of urine samples showed that subcutaneous and metastasized tumor models exhibit comparable renal monoamine excretion profiles characterized by increasing urinary dopamine, 3-methoxytyramine, norepinephrine and normetanephrine. Metastases-related epinephrine and metanephrine were only detectable in SCID/beige mice. Positron emission tomography and immunohistochemistry revealed that all metastases maintained somatostatin receptor-specific radiotracer uptake and immunoreactivity, respectively. In conclusion, we demonstrate that intravenous injection of luciferase-expressing MPC cells into SCID/beige and SKH1 mice provides reproducible and clinically relevant spread of catecholamine-producing and somatostatin receptor-positive metastases. These standardized preclinical models allow for precise monitoring of disease progression and should facilitate further investigations on theranostic approaches against metastatic pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.