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Halfdan Sorbye, Grace Kong, and Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is an established treatment for grade 1 and 2 gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors with an increased uptake on somatostatin receptor imaging (SRI). Patients with metastatic high-grade (WHO G3) gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (NET G3 and NEC) represent a heterogeneous subgroup with poor prognosis and standard platinum-etoposide chemotherapy have limited therapeutic benefit. However, there is promising emerging evidence supporting the effectiveness of PRRT in SRI-positive G3 disease. A review search for studies reporting on PRRT in gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms G3 was performed: four studies with more than ten cases were found. PRRT was mainly given as second- or third-line treatment in patients with progressive disease. Most patients had a pancreatic primary, 50% had well-differentiated tumors, and most had a Ki-67 <55%. Three studies showed similar results with promising response rates (31–41%) and disease control rates (69–78%). Progression-free survival (11–16 months) and survival (22–46 months) were best concerning patients with a Ki-67 <55%. Progression-free survival was 19 months in NET G3, 11 months for lowNEC (Ki-67 ≤55%) and 4 months for highNEC (Ki-67 >55%). PRRT should be considered for patients with increased uptake on SRI, both in gastroenteropancreatic NET G3 cases and as well as in NEC cases with a Ki-67 21–55%. PRRT for NEC with a Ki-67 >55% is less defined, but could be considered in highly selected cases after response to initial chemotherapy where all residual disease have high uptake on SRI. Dual tracer using 18F-FDG PET/CT and SRI provides important information for patient selection for PRRT in this heterogeneous complex high-grade disease.

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Suzan Stelloo, Simon Linder, Ekaterina Nevedomskaya, Eider Valle-Encinas, Iris de Rink, Lodewyk F A Wessels, Henk van der Poel, Andries M Bergman, and Wilbert Zwart

Prostate cancer development and progression is largely dependent on androgen receptor (AR) signaling. AR is a hormone-dependent transcription factor, which binds to thousands of sites throughout the human genome to regulate expression of directly responsive genes, including pro-survival genes that enable tumor cells to cope with increased cellular stress. ERN1 and XBP1 – two key players of the unfolded protein response (UPR) – are among such stress-associated genes. Here, we show that XBP1 levels in primary prostate cancer are associated with biochemical recurrence in five independent cohorts. Patients who received AR-targeted therapies had significantly lower XBP1 expression, whereas expression of the active form of XBP1 (XBP1s) was elevated. In vitro results show that AR-induced ERN1 expression led to increased XBP1s mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, ChIP-seq analysis revealed that XBP1s binds enhancers upon stress stimuli regulating genes involved in UPR processes, eIF2 signaling and protein ubiquitination. We further demonstrate genomic overlap of AR- and XBP1s-binding sites, suggesting genomic conversion of the two signaling cascades. Transcriptomic effects of XBP1 were further studied by knockdown experiments, which lead to decreased expression of androgen-responsive genes and UPR genes. These results suggest a two-step mechanism of gene regulation, which involves androgen-induced expression of ERN1, thereby enhancing XBP1 splicing and transcriptional activity. This signaling cascade may prepare the cells for the increased protein folding, mRNA decay and translation that accompanies AR-regulated tumor cell proliferation.

Free access

Alastair Davies, Amina Zoubeidi, and Luke A Selth

Tumours adapt to increasingly potent targeted therapies by transitioning to alternative lineage states. In prostate cancer, the widespread clinical application of androgen receptor (AR) pathway inhibitors has led to the insurgence of tumours relapsing with a neuroendocrine phenotype, termed neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC). Recent evidence suggests that this lineage reprogramming is driven largely by dysregulation of the epigenome and transcriptional networks. Indeed, aberrant DNA methylation patterning and altered expression of epigenetic modifiers, such as EZH2, transcription factors, and RNA-modifying factors, are hallmarks of NEPC tumours. In this review, we explore the nature of the epigenetic and transcriptional landscape as prostate cancer cells lose their AR-imposed identity and transition to the neuroendocrine lineage. Beyond addressing the mechanisms underlying epithelial-to-neuroendocrine lineage reprogramming, we discuss how oncogenic signaling and metabolic shifts fuel epigenetic/transcriptional changes as well as the current state of epigenetic therapies for NEPC.

Open access

Frances Collins, Nozomi Itani, Arantza Esnal-Zufiaurre, Douglas A Gibson, Carol Fitzgerald, and Philippa T K Saunders

Endometrial cancer is a common gynaeological malignancy: life time exposure to oestrogen is a key risk factor. Oestrogen action is mediated by receptors encoded by ESR1 (ERα) and ESR2 (ERβ): ERα plays a key role in regulating endometrial cell proliferation. A truncated splice variant isoform (ERβ5) encoded by ESR2 is highly expressed in cancers. This study explored whether ERβ5 alters oestrogen responsiveness of endometrial epithelial cells. Immunhistochemistry profiling of human endometrial cancer tissue biopsies identified epithelial cells co-expressing ERβ5 and ERα in stage I endometrial adenocarcinomas and post menopausal endometrium. Induced co-expression of ERβ5 in ERαpos endometrial cancer cells (Ishikawa) significantly increased ligand-dependent activation of an ERE-luciferase reporter stimulated by either E2 or the ERα-selective agonist 1,3,5-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-4-propyl-1H-pyrazole (PPT) compared to untransfected cells. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analysis of tagged yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-ERβ5 transfected into Ishikawa cells revealed that incubation with E2 induced a transient reduction in intra-nuclear mobility characterised by punctate protein redistribution which phenocopied the behaviour of ERα following ligand activation with E2. In ERαneg MDA-MD-231 breast cancer cells, there was no E2-dependent change in mobility of YFP-ERβ5 and no activation of the ERE reporter in cells expressing ERβ5. In conclusion, we demonstrate that ERβ5 can act as heterodimeric partner to ERα in Ishikawa cells and increases their sensitivity to E2. We speculate that expression of ERβ5 in endometrial epithelial cells may increase the risk of malignant transformation and suggest that immunostaining for ERβ5 should be included in diagnostic assessment of women with early grade cancers.

Free access

Xiaqing Xu, Meimei Si, Honggang Lou, Youyou Yan, Yunxi Liu, Hong Zhu, Xiaoe Lou, Jian Ma, Difeng Zhu, Honghai Wu, Bo Yanz, Haoshu Wu, Ling Ding, and Qiaojun He

Free access

Wei-Chun Chang, Hsiao-Ching Wang, Wei-Chung Cheng, Juan-Cheng Yang, Wei-Min Chung, Yen-Pin Ho, Lumin Chen, Yao-Ching Hung, and Wen-Lung Ma

Platinum-based therapy remains the cornerstone for cancer therapy; however, its efficacy varies. The role of lipoprotein receptor-mediated lipid entry for cancer development has been reported. Yet, the roles and mechanism of the low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) in chemo-sensitivities are unknown. In the current report, we used epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), composed of various cellularities, to study this issue. Using public cDNA microarray database and single cohort study, LDLR expressions were positively associated with epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOCs) platinum-based chemotherapy patients’ disease prognosis. In vitro and in vivo add-in/silencing LDLR was introduced to determine cisplatin sensitivity and cancer growth. Results revealed that knocked-down LDLR could sensitize while overexpressed LDLR could insensitize EOC cells to the cytotoxic effects of cisplatin. Moreover, the trans-omics approaches depicted an LDLR→LPC (Lyso-phosphatidylcholine)→FAM83B (phospholipase-related)→FGFRs (cisplatin sensitivity and phospholipase-related) regulatory axis. Finally, the manipulation of LDLR expression in EOC cells was found to determine the efficacy of cisplatin therapy in terms of tumor suppression. In conclusion, the LDLR→LPC→FAM83B→FGFRs axis is an example of tumor macroenvironmental regulation of therapy outcomes. Relatedly, LDLR expression could serve as a biomarker of chemotherapy sensitivity in EOCs. Significance: this study describes the role of LDLR in the development of insensitivity to platinum-based chemotherapy in epithelial ovarian cancer. The lipidome (e.g., LPC) and transcriptome (e.g., FAM38B) interactions revealed using trans-omics approaches an LDLR→LPC→FAM83B→FGFRs regulatory axis in cancer cells, in an animal model, and in patients.

Open access

Jonathan Wesley Nyce

We have recently described in this journal our detection of an anthropoid primate-specific, adrenal androgen-dependent, p53-mediated, ‘kill switch’ tumor suppression mechanism that reached its fullest expression only in humans, as a result of human-specific exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons caused by the harnessing of fire – but which has components reaching all the way back to the origin of the primate lineage. We proposed that species-specific mechanisms of tumor suppression are a generalized requirement for vertebrate species to increase in body size or lifespan beyond those of species basal to their lineage or to exploit environmental niches which increase exposure to carcinogenic substances. Using empirical dynamic modeling, we have also reported our detection of a relationship between body size, lifespan, and species-specific mechanism of tumor suppression (and here add carcinogen exposure), such that a change in any one of these variables requires an equilibrating change in one or more of the others in order to maintain lifetime cancer risk at a value of about 4%, as observed in virtually all larger, longer-lived species under natural conditions. Here we show how this relationship, which we refer to as the lex naturalis of vertebrate speciation, elucidates the evolutionary steps underlying an adrenal androgen-dependent, human-specific ‘kill switch’ tumor suppression mechanism; and further, how it prescribes a solution to ‘normalize’ lifetime cancer risk in our species from its current aberrant 40% to the 4% that characterized primitive humans. We further argue that this prescription writ by the lex naturalis represents the only tenable strategy for meaningful suppression of the accelerating impact of cancer upon our species.

Free access

Laura Valerio, Valeria Bottici, Antonio Matrone, Paolo Piaggi, David Viola, Virginia Cappagli, Laura Agate, Eleonora Molinaro, Raffaele Ciampi, Alessia Tacito, Teresa Ramone, Cristina Romei, and Rossella Elisei

Vandetanib is an important treatment option for advanced metastatic medullary thyroid cancer. The aims of this study were to evaluate the predictors of both a longer response to vandetanib and the outcome. Medical records of 79 medullary thyroid cancer patients treated with vandetanib at our center were analysed. Twenty-five patients were treated for <12 months, 54 were treated for ≥12 months and 24 of these latter were treated for ≥48 months (short-, long- and very long-term). The median progression free survival of the long and very long-term treated patients was significantly longer than in the ZETA trial. When comparing the groups of short - and long-term treated patients the only significant difference was that these latter were less frequently previously treated with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. However, the long-term treated patients had a younger age, both at diagnosis and enrolment, which was statistically significant in the very long-term treated patients. In the long-term treated group, younger age, enrolment for symptoms and development of adverse events were significantly correlated with a better outcome. The enrolment for symptoms remained the only statistically significant predictor of a good outcome in the very long-term treated patients. In conclusion, early treatment with vandetanib, when patients are younger, with a good ECOG performance status and symptomatic disease, not necessarily progressing for RECIST, seem to be the best predictors of a longer and durable response. Further studies are needed to confirm these results.

Free access

Mason A Lee, Kensey N Bergdorf, Courtney J Phifer, Caroline Y Jones, Sonia Y Byon, Leah M Sawyer, Joshua A Bauer, and Vivian L Weiss

Thyroid cancer has the fastest growing incidence of any cancer in the United States, as measured by the number of new cases per year. Despite advances in tissue culture techniques, a robust model for thyroid cancer spheroid culture is yet to be developed. Using eight established thyroid cancer cell lines, we created an efficient and cost-effective 3D culture system that can enhance our understanding of in vivo treatment response. We found that all eight cell lines readily form spheroids in culture with unique morphology, size, and cytoskeletal organization. In addition, we developed a high-throughput workflow that allows for drug screening of spheroids. Using this approach, we found that spheroids from K1 and TPC1 cells demonstrate significant differences in their sensitivities to dabrafenib treatment that closely model expected patient drug response. In addition, K1 spheroids have increased sensitivity to dabrafenib when compared to monolayer K1 cultures. Utilizing traditional 2D cultures of these cell lines, we evaluated the mechanisms of this drug response, showing dramatic and acute changes in their actin cytoskeleton as well as inhibition of migratory behavior in response to dabrafenib treatment. Our study is the first to describe the development of a robust spheroid system from established cultured thyroid cancer cell lines and adaptation to a high-throughput format. We show that combining 3D culture with traditional 2D methods provides a complementary and powerful approach to uncover drug sensitivity and mechanisms of inhibition in thyroid cancer.

Free access

Nidal Muhanna, Harley H L Chan, Jason L Townson, Cheng S Jin, Lili Ding, Michael S Valic, Catriona M Douglas, Christina M MacLaughlin, Juan Chen, Gang Zheng, and Jonathan C Irish

The incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer has increased significantly during the last several decades. Surgical resection is the primary treatment for thyroid cancer and is highly effective, resulting in 5-year survival rates greater than 98%. However, surgical resection can result in short- and long-term treatment-related morbidities. Additionally, as this malignancy often affects women less than 40 years of age, there is interest in more conservative treatment approaches and, an unmet need for therapeutic options that minimize the risk of surgery-related morbidities while simultaneously providing an effective cancer treatment. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has the potential to reduce treatment-related side effects by decreasing invasiveness and limiting toxicity. Owing to multiple advantageous properties of the porphyrin-HDL nanoparticle (PLP) as a PDT agent, including preferential accumulation in tumor, biodegradability and unprecedented photosensitizer packing, we evaluate PLP-mediated PDT as a minimally invasive, tumor-specific treatment for thyroid cancer. On both a biologically relevant human papillary thyroid cancer (K1) mouse model and an anatomically relevant rabbit squamous carcinoma (VX2)-implanted rabbit thyroid model, the intrinsic fluorescence of PLP enabled tracking of tumor preferential accumulation and guided PDT. This resulted in significant and specific apoptosis in tumor tissue, but not surrounding normal tissues including trachea and recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN). A long-term survival study further demonstrated that PLP-PDT enabled complete ablation of tumor tissue while sparing both the normal thyroid tissue and RLN from damage, thus providing a safe, minimally invasive, and effective alternative to thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer therapies.