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Jaime Guevara-Aguirre, Gabriela Peña, Gabriel Pazmiño, William Acosta, Jannette Saavedra, Daniela Lescano, Alexandra Guevara, and Antonio W D Gavilanes

Meta-analyses from 2018–2022 have shown that obesity increases the risk of various cancers such as acute myeloid lymphoma, chronic myeloid lymphoma, diffuse beta cell lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bladder, breast, cholangiocarcinoma, colorectal, ovarian, esophageal, kidney, liver, prostate, thyroid, and uterus. Contextually, obesity, and its comorbidities, is the largest, most lethal pandemics in the history of mankind; hence, identification of underlying mechanisms is needed to adequately address this global health threat. Herein, we present the metabolic and hormonal mechanisms linked to obesity that might etiologically contribute to neoplasia, including hyperinsulinemia and putative places in the insulin-signaling pathway. Excess insulin, acting as a growth factor, might contribute to tumorigenesis, while abundant ATP and GDP supply the additional energy needed for proliferation of rapidly dividing cells. Our observations in the Ecuadorian cohort of subjects with Laron syndrome (ELS) prove that obesity does not always associate with increased cancer risk. Indeed, despite excess body fat from birth to death, these individuals display a diminished incidence of cancer when compared to their age- and sex-matched relatives. Furthermore, in cell cultures exposed to potent oxidizing agents, addition of ELS serum induces less DNA damage as well as increased apoptosis. ELS individuals have absent growth hormone (GH) counter-regulatory effects in carbohydrate metabolism due to a defective GH receptor. The corresponding biochemical phenotype includes extremely low basal serum concentrations of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I, lower basal glucose and triglyceride (TG) levels, and diminished glucose, TG, and insulin responses to orally administered glucose or to a mixed meal.

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Nicola Fazio, Lorenzo Gervaso, Thorvardur R Halfdanarson, Mohamad Sonbol, Rachel A Eiring, Sara Pusceddu, Natalie Prinzi, Benedetta Lombardi Stocchetti, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, David J Gross, Thomas Walter, Patrick Robelin, Catherine Lombard-Bohas, Samuele Frassoni, Vincenzo Bagnardi, Lorenzo Antonuzzo, Clotilde Sparano, Sara Massironi, Fabio Gelsomino, Alberto Bongiovanni, Nicoletta Ranallo, Salvatore Tafuto, Maura Rossi, Mauro Cives, Ibrahim Rasul Kakil, Hytam Hamid, Alessandra Chirco, Michela Squadroni, Anna La Salvia, Jorge Hernando, Johannes Hofland, Anna Koumarianou, Sabrina Boselli, Darina Tamayo, Cristina Mazzon, Manila Rubino, and Francesca Spada

We conducted a retrospective/prospective worldwide study on patients with neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) and a molecularly proven SARS-CoV-2 positivity. Preliminary results regarding 85 patients of the INTENSIVE study have been published in 2021. Now we are reporting the 2-year analysis.Here, we are reporting data from consecutive patients enrolled between 1 June 2020, and 31 May 2022. Among the 118 contacted centers, 25 were active to enroll and 19 actively recruiting at the time of data cut-off for a total of 280 patients enrolled. SARS-CoV-2 positivity occurred in 47.5% of patients in 2020, 35.1% in 2021, and 17.4% in 2022. The median age for COVID-19 diagnosis was 60 years. Well-differentiated tumors, non-functioning, metastatic stage, and gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) primary sites represented most of the NENs. COVID-19-related pneumonia occurred in 22.8% of the total, with 61.3% of them requiring hospitalization; 11 patients (3.9%) needed sub-intensive or intensive care unit therapies and 14 patients died (5%), in 11 cases (3.9%) directly related to COVID-19. Diabetes mellitus and age at COVID-19 diagnosis > 70 years were significantly associated with COVID-19 mortality, whereas thoracic primary site with COVID-19 morbidity. A significant decrease in both hospitalization and pneumonia occurred in 2022 vs 2020. In our largest series of NEN patients with COVID-19, the NEN population is similar to the general population of patients with NEN regardless of COVID-19. However, older age, non-GEP primary sites and diabetes mellitus should be carefully considered for increased COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Relevant information could be derived by integrating our results with NENs patients included in other cancer patients with COVID-19 registries.

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Henry Crayton, Katherine Wu, David Leong, Nazim Bhimani, Matti Gild, and Anthony Glover

Diffuse sclerosing variant (DSV) of papillary thyroid carcinomais a rare form of thyroid cancer that demonstrates more aggressive histopathology than classical papillary thyroid carcinoma (c-PTC); however, if this leads to worse survival is debated. Many DSVs are driven by fusion events which are of recent clinical importance due to the advent of targeted RET inhibitors. A systematic search and meta-analysis of the literature was performed to compare outcomes of disease-specific mortality (DSM), metastatic and recurrent disease and the incidence of fusion events between DSV and c-PTC to July 2022. The Newcastle–Ottawa Quality Assessment studies was used to assess quality. An odds ratio (OR) was utilised to measure outcomes with 95% CIs. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis guideline was followed. Seventeen studies were included with 874 DSV patients compared to 76,013 c-PTC patients. DSV patients had worse DSM (OR=2.50, 95% CI 1.39–4.51) and presented with a higher rate of metastatic lymph nodes (OR = 5.85, 95% CI 2.73–12.53) and more distant metastases (OR = 3.83, 95% CI 2.17–6.77). DSV patients had higher odds of recurrent disease (OR = 3.23, 95% CI 2.00–5.23) and overall distant metastasis (OR = 2.70, 95% CI 1.74–4.17). Rates of RET fusion alterations for DSV ranged from 25 to 83%. DSV has a worse prognosis than c-PTC with higher rates of recurrent disease and distant metastasis. The high prevalence of RET fusions offers the potential to improve outcomes for patients with DSV.

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Rachel Pimenta Riechelmann, Mauro Daniel Spina Donadio, Victor Hugo Fonseca de Jesus, Nathalia de Angelis de Carvalho, Karina Miranda Santiago, Milton J Barros, Laura Lopes, Gabriel Oliveira dos Santos, Maria Nirvana Formiga, Dirce Maria Carraro, and Giovana Tardin Torrezan

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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Emanuel Christ, Donato Iacovazzo, Márta Korbonits, and Aurel Perren

Endogenous hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia (EHH) is a rare condition with an incidence of approximately 4–6 per million person-years and comprises a group of disorders causing hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia without exogenous administration of insulin or its secretagogues. In adults, most cases (approximately 90%) are secondary to a single insulinoma. Other causes include insulinoma in the context of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (approximately 5% of cases) and non-insulinoma pancreatogenous hypoglycemia syndrome, which is estimated to account for 0.5–5% of all cases. Recently, an entity called insulinomatosis has been described as a novel cause of EHH in adults. The characteristic feature of insulinomatosis is the synchronous or metachronous occurrence of multiple pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors expressing exclusively insulin. While most cases arise sporadically, there is recent evidence that autosomal dominant inheritance of mutations in the v-maf avian musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homolog A (MAFA) gene can cause a familial form of insulinomatosis. In these families, EHH is paradoxically associated with the occurrence of diabetes mellitus within the same family. This review summarizes the current clinical, biochemical, imaging and genetic knowledge of this disease.

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Alaa Sada, Travis J McKenzie, Adrian Vella, Michael J Levy, and Thorvardur R Halfdanarson

Localized insulinoma is an uncommon entity that can result in substantial morbidity due to the associated hypoglycemia. Recent studies have suggested an increase in the incidence of insulinoma in recent decades that may possibly be secondary to increased awareness, incidental diagnoses, and better diagnostic methods. Diagnosing and localizing insulinoma within the pancreas can be challenging, but advances in nuclear imaging may improve diagnostic accuracy. Delays in diagnosis are common, but once a localized insulinoma is diagnosed and appropriately treated, the long-term prognosis is excellent. Surgical resection is considered the standard of care management option for localized insulinoma, but tumor ablation with endoscopic ultrasound guidance has also been shown to be an effective and safe method for therapy.

Open access

Susan Richter, Timothy J Garrett, Nicole Bechmann, Roderick J Clifton-Bligh, and Hans K Ghayee

Metabolites represent the highest layer of biological information. Their diverse chemical nature enables networks of chemical reactions that are critical for maintaining life by providing energy and building blocks. Quantification by targeted and untargeted analytical methods using either mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy has been applied to pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma (PPGL) with the long-term goal to improve diagnosis and therapy. PPGLs have unique features that provide useful biomarkers and clues for targeted treatments. First, high production rates of catecholamines and metanephrines allow for specific and sensitive detection of the disease in plasma or urine. Secondly, PPGLs are associated with heritable pathogenic variants (PVs) in around 40% of cases, many of which occur in genes encoding enzymes, such as succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) and fumarate hydratase (FH). These genetic aberrations lead to the overproduction of oncometabolites succinate or fumarate, respectively, and are detectable in tumors and blood. Such metabolic dysregulation can be exploited diagnostically, with the aim to ensure appropriate interpretation of gene variants, especially those with unknown significance, and facilitate early tumor detection through regular patient follow-up. Furthermore, SDHx and FH PV alter cellular pathways, including DNA hypermethylation, hypoxia signaling, redox homeostasis, DNA repair, calcium signaling, kinase cascades, and central carbon metabolism. Pharmacological interventions targeted toward such features have the potential to uncover treatments against metastatic PPGL, around 50% of which are associated with germline PV in SDHx. With the availability of omics technologies for all layers of biological information, personalized diagnostics and treatment is in close reach.

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Anela Blažević, Anand M Iyer, Marie-Louise F van Velthuysen, Johannes Hofland, Gaston J H Franssen, Richard A Feelders, Marina Zajec, Theo M Luider, Wouter W de Herder, and Leo J Hofland

Mesenteric metastases in small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs) are associated with mesenteric fibrosis (MF) in a proportion of patients. MF can induce severe abdominal complications, and an effective preventive treatment is lacking. To elucidate possible novel therapeutic targets, we performed a proteomics-based analysis of MF. The tumor cell and stromal compartment of primary tumors and paired mesenteric metastases of SI-NET patients with MF (n = 6) and without MF (n = 6) was analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Analysis of differential protein abundance was performed. Collagen alpha-1(XII) (COL12A1) and complement component C9 (C9) expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in mesenteric metastases. A total of 2988 proteins were identified. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering showed close clustering of paired primary and mesenteric tumor cell samples. Comparing MF to non-MF samples, we detected differentially protein abundance solely in the mesenteric metastasis stroma group. There was no differential abundance of proteins in tumor cell samples or primary tumor stroma samples. Analysis of the differentially abundant proteins (n = 36) revealed higher abundance in MF samples of C9, various collagens and proteoglycans associated with profibrotic extracellular matrix dysregulation and signaling pathways. Proteins involved in fatty acid oxidation showed a lower abundance. COL12A1 and C9 were confirmed by IHC to have significantly higher expression in MF mesenteric metastases compared to non-MF. In conclusion, proteome profiles of SI-NETs with and without MF differ primarily in the stromal compartment of mesenteric metastases. Analysis of differentially abundant proteins revealed possible new signaling pathways involved in MF development. In conclusion, proteome profiles of SI-NETs with and without MF differ primarily in the stromal compartment of mesenteric metastases. Analysis of differentially abundant proteins revealed possible new signaling pathways involved in MF development.

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Xuguang Zhu, Li Zhao, Woo Kyung Lee Doolittle, and Sheue-yann Cheng

Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is one of the most aggressive solid cancers in humans, with limited treatment options. Recent studies suggest that cancer stem cell (CSC) activity contributes to therapeutic resistance and recurrence of ATC. We show that the expression of the endogenous thyroid hormone receptor β gene (THRB) is silenced in ATC and demonstrate that the exogenously expressed TRβ suppresses CSC activity. Decitabine is one of the demethylation agents to treat myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myeloid leukemia patients and is currently in clinical trials for hematopoietic malignancies and solid tumors. We aim to show that the re-expression of the endogenous THRB gene by decitabine can attenuate CSC activity to block ATC tumor growth. We treated ATC cell lines derived from human ATC tumors (11T and 16T cells) with decitabine and evaluated the effects of the reactivated endogenous TRβ on CSC activity in vitro and in vivo xenograft models. We found that treatment of 11T and 16T cells with decitabine reactivated the expression of endogenous TRβ, as evidenced by western blot and immunohistochemical analyses. The expressed TRβ inhibited cell proliferation by arresting cells at the S phase, increased apoptotic cell death by upregulation of cleaved caspase-3, and markedly suppressed the expression of CSC regulators, including cMYC, ALDH, SOX2, CD44, and β-catenin. Decitabine also inhibited xenograft tumor growth by suppressing CSC activity, inhibiting cancer cell proliferation, and increasing apoptosis. Our findings suggest that re-expression of the endogenous TRβ is a novel therapeutic approach for ATC via suppression of CSC activity.

Free access

Marilina Romeo, Giorgia Spaggiari, Chiara Furini, Antonio R M Granata, Angela Toss, Manuela Simoni, and Daniele Santi

Cancer-related diagnosis and treatments can profoundly affect every aspect of an individual’s life. The negative impact on the sexual sphere can manifest with onset or worsening of the most frequent male form of sexual dysfunction, that is the erectile dysfunction (ED), with an estimated incidence ranging from 40 to 100% in patients living with cancer. Cancer and ED are strictly related for many reasons. First, the psychological distress, the so-called 'Damocles syndrome', afflicting cancer patients contributes to ED onset. Second, all cancer therapies can variably lead to sexual dysfunction, even more than the disease itself, having both direct or indirect effects on sexual life. Indeed, alongside pelvic surgery and treatments directly impairing the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonadal axis, the altered personal-body-image frequently experienced by people living with cancer may represent a source of distress contributing to sexual dysfunction. It is undeniable that sexual issues are currently neglected or at least under-considered in the oncological setting, mainly due to the subjective lack of preparation experienced by healthcare professionals and to scant information provided to oncological patients on this topic. To overcome these management problems, a new multidisciplinary medical branch called ‘oncosexology’ was set up. The aim of this review is to comprehensively evaluate ED as an oncology-related morbidity, giving new light to sexual dysfunction management in the oncological setting.