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Junhao Zhu, Chao Tang, Zixiang Cong, Feng Yuan, Xiangming Cai, Jin Yang, and Chiyuan Ma

Dopamine agonist (DA) is the first choice for the treatment of prolactinomas, and drug resistance is unavoidable during treatment due to the heterogeneity of tumors. The two prolactinoma cell lines (GH3 cells and MMQ cells) were found to have different sensitivity and responding modes to the cabergoline (CAB) and bromocriptine (BRC). In this research, we disclosed the capability of ACT001, a derivative of parthenolide analogs, to activate AMPK by increasing the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level and AMP/ATP ratio to reverse DA resistance through dual pathways in prolactinoma cells. The results indicated that ACT001 could reverse the CAB resistance in GH3 cells by inhibiting the mTOR signaling pathway, inducing cell death through autophagy, and reverse the BRC resistance in MMQ cells by activating the EGR1 signaling pathway, inducing cell death through apoptosis. Our results suggested that ACT001 is a promising therapeutic compound for treating DA-resistant prolactinomas.

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Jui-Hsiang Lin, Kang-Yung Peng, Yu-Ping Kuo, Hsuan Liu, Chin-Ming Bertrand Tan, Yuh-Feng Lin, Hui-Wen Chiu, Yen-Hung Lin, Yung-Ming Chen, Jeff S Chueh, and Vin-Cent Wu

Autonomous cortisol secretion (ACS) could be found in some patients with unilateral primary aldosteronism (uPA). However, the histopathological patterns of uPA with concurrent ACS have not been well elucidated. The adrenal gland with the adenoma from 61 uPA patients who underwent unilateral adrenalectomy were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Bioinformatics analysis, including the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes, was applied. The prevalence of multiple aldosterone-producing nodules or micronodules (mAPN/mAPM) was 65.6% (40/61) among our uPA patients. Concurrent ACS was identified in 32% of this uPA cohort; they were associated with the interaction of larger tumor size (>1.98 cm) and mAPN/mAPM (odds ratio = 3.08, P  = 0.004). Transcriptome analysis uncovered a dominant enrichment of HSD3B7 overexpression (P  = 0.004) in the adenomas of the histopathologically classical adrenal uPA lesions with concomitant mAPN/mAPM, compared with those uPA adenomas without concurrent surrounding mAPN/mAPM. We identified a novel linkage of enhanced steroidogenic genes of HSD3B7 expression concurrent with the downstream higher CYP11B1 expression; further relationship was confirmed by immunohistochemical staining and validated by TCGA bioinformatics. The presence of mAPN/mAPM in uPA patients had lower rate for biochemical success after adrenalectomy (P  = 0.047). In summary, two-thirds of uPA patients had concomitant mAPN/mAPM; 1/3 of uPA patients had concurrent ACS. Steroidogenic HSD3B7/CYP11B1 signaling was associated with uPA adenomas with surrounding mAPN/mAPM. Interaction of larger adenoma size with the presence of mAPN/mAPM was linked to co-existing ACS. Such uPA patients with concomitant mAPN/mAPM had lower rate of biochemical success.

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Luohai Chen, Gopinath Gnanasegaran, Dalvinder Mandair, Christos Toumpanakis, Martyn Caplin, and Shaunak Navalkissoor

177Lu-Dotatate is increasingly used in patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumour (NET). However, few prognostic markers are available to stratify progression-free survival (PFS) of patients who received 177Lu-Dotatate. Clinicopathological data including baseline circulating biomarkers of patients with advanced NET who received 177Lu-Dotatate were routinely collected and were retrospectively analysed. Continuous variables were normalized by dividing them by their upper normal limits. The whole data set was randomly divided into a training set and a validation set. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to identify independent markers and to develop a scoring model to predict treatment failure at 1 year. In total, 195 patients were included. Elevated baseline chromogranin A (CgA), normal creatinine and previous chemotherapy were three risk factors independently associated with 1-year treatment failure. By combining these risk factors, a scoring model was developed which could accurately predict 1-year treatment failure both in the training set (area under curve, AUC, 0.813; 95% CI, 0.731–0.895; P< 0.001) and in the validation set (AUC, 0.816; 95% CI, 0.644–0.968; P< 0.001). After selecting a score of 29.7 as the cut-off value of the scoring model, patients could be stratified into two groups namely low-risk and high-risk with significantly different 1-year treatment failure rate, PFS and overall survival (OS; P< 0.001) both in the training set and validation set. In conclusion, baseline CgA, creatinine level and previous chemotherapy were independently associated with 1-year treatment failure of patients with advanced NET who received 177Lu-Dotatate and the scoring model and prognostic stratification based on these markers could accurately predict 1-year treatment failure, PFS and OS.

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Xianhui Ruan, Jiaoyu Yi, Linfei Hu, Jingtai Zhi, Yu Zeng, Xiukun Hou, Jianfeng Huang, Pengfei Gu, Weijing Hao, Ming Gao, Yi Pan, Songfeng Wei, and Xiangqian Zheng

Increasing body of recent studies determining the expression of tumor-specific major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II protein supports its potential role in several malignancies, but little is known in human medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Here, we report the expression of MHC-II and its clinicopathologic and prognostic relevance in MTC patients. Immunohistochemistry staining revealed a significant reduction in tumor cell-specific MHC-II expression in a higher AJCC stage and its poor prognostic correlation with human MTC development. Further statistical analysis identified the low MHC-II expression as a significant and independent risk factor for MTC recurrence and patient survival. Moreover, in vitro studies showed that the MHC-II expression was remarkably increased by RET inhibitors, which were prescribed to treat advanced MTC. Similarly, inhibitors blocking the MAPK/ERK and AKT/mTOR pathways also augmented MHC-II expression, suggesting their implications in RET-MHC-II signaling axis. Importantly, in vitro assays manifested enhanced peripheral blood leukocytes-mediated cytotoxicity in MTC cells treated with RET inhibitors, which were partially alleviated by HLA knock-down. Together, our study demonstrates that low MHC-II expression levels may serve as a prognostic biomarker for aggressive diseases in MTC patients and indicates that RET activation may promote MTC immune escape through downregulating MHC-II expression.

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Cindy H Chau, Cathee Till, Douglas K Price, Phyllis J Goodman, Marian L Neuhouser, Michael N Pollak, Ian M Thompson, and William D Figg

Molecular mechanisms linking obesity to prostate cancer involve steroid hormone and insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) pathways. We investigated the association of circulating serum markers (e.g. androgens and IGFs/IGFBPs) with BMI and in modifying the association of obesity with prostate cancer risk. Data and specimens for this nested case–control study are from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of finasteride for prostate cancer prevention. Presence or absence of cancer was determined by prostate biopsy. Serum samples were assayed for sex steroid hormone concentrations and IGF1 axis analytes. Logistic regression estimated odds ratio and 95% CIs for risk of overall, low-grade (Gleason 2–6), and high-grade (Gleason 7–10) cancers. We found significant associations between BMI with serum steroids and IGFs/IGFBPs; the IGF1 axis was significantly associated with several serum steroids. Serum steroid levels did not affect the association of BMI with prostate cancer risk; however, IGFBP2 and IGFs modified the association of obesity with low- and high-grade disease. While serum steroids and IGFs/IGFBPs are associated with BMI, only the IGF1 axis contributed to obesity-related prostate cancer risk. Understanding the biological mechanisms linking obesity to prostate cancer risk as it relates to circulating serum markers will aid in developing effective prostate cancer prevention strategies and treatments.

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Chi-Yu Kuo, Yuan-Ching Chang, Ming-Nan Chien, Jie-Yang Jhuang, Yi-Chiung Hsu, Shih-Yuan Huang, and Shih-Ping Cheng

Aberrant lipid metabolism provides bioenergetic, biosynthetic, and redox supplies to cancer cells. Previous studies have reported differential lipid profiling in thyroid malignancies. Sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP1), encoded by the SREBF1 gene, is a master regulator of cellular lipid homeostasis. The clinical and functional significance of SREBP1 in thyroid cancer is not well understood. Here, we showed that SREBP1 expression is significantly upregulated in invasive thyroid cancer than in normal thyroid tissue or benign thyroid nodules. High tumoral SREBP1 expression was associated with extrathyroidal extension, advanced disease stage, and shorter disease-specific survival in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer. SREBP1 overexpression significantly increased the oxygen consumption rate, filopodia formation, and migratory and invasive capacities of thyroid cancer cells. Knockdown of SREBF1 or treatment with an SREBP1 activation inhibitor fatostatin had the opposite effect. RNA-Seq analysis showed that modulation of SREBP1 expression was accompanied by corresponding changes in the expression of epithelial–mesenchymal transition markers and CYR61/CTGF. SREBP1-facilitated cell invasion could be abrogated by treatment with a YAP inhibitor such as verteporfin or genetic silencing of CYR61 or CTGF. In summary, SREBP1 upregulation can be used as a prognostic indicator for thyroid cancer and SREBP1 overexpression is involved in cancer invasiveness, at least partly, through upregulation of CYR61/CTGF via the Hippo-YAP pathway.

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Yang Zhao, Cangang Zhang, Yanan Zhu, Xi Ding, Yikun Zhou, Hongjun Lv, Yuxuan Lin, Yuan Wu, Bingyin Shi, and Jiao Fu

The immunosuppressive microenvironment is associated with poor prognosis in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC); however, the molecular mechanisms involved are unknown. Among the triggering receptors expressed on myeloid cell (TREM) family, we found that TREM1 expression in PTC was significantly higher than that in normal tissues. TREM1 overexpression was associated with BRAFV600E profiles and advanced tumor stages. Furthermore, TREM1 mRNA expression was negatively correlated with promoter methylation status. Specifically, hypomethylation of CpG site cg06196379 in the TREM1 promoter was related with poor patient disease-free survival (DFS) and a high PTC recurrence rate. Mechanistically, TREM1 was mainly expressed in malignant epithelial cells but not in macrophages in PTC by single-cell analysis. PTC tissues with high TREM1 levels had enhanced infiltration of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and decreased infiltration of CD8+ T cells. Our study confirms that hypomethylation-mediated overexpression of TREM1 in PTC cells promotes an immunosuppressive microenvironment by enhancing Treg infiltration. We recommend the future use of therapeutic strategy targeting TREM1 for the treatment of PTC.

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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.

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Klaas Van Den Heede, Swathikan Chidambaram, Sam Van Slycke, Nele Brusselaers, Carl Fredrik Warfvinge, Håkan Ohlsson, Rita Gustafsson, Erik Nordenström, and Martin Almquist

This meta-analysis aims to evaluate long-term survival and prognostic factors in patients with metastatic small intestine neuroendocrine tumors (siNETs). Patients with siNETs usually present with advanced disease, limiting curative treatment options. Overall survival seems favorable compared to other cancers but differences in terminology, lack of consistent coding, conflicting results from smaller cohorts, and recent developments of new treatment options make (reliable) survival data difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, accurate survival data are essential for many facets of health care. A systematic literature search was performed, using MEDLINE® (PubMed), EMBASE®, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library up to June 30th, 2021. Studies were included if overall survival data in patients with metastatic siNETs were reported. The results were pooled in a random-effects meta-analysis and are reported as hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Subgroup analyses and meta-regression were performed to assess the observed heterogeneity and the impact of important prognostic factors. After screening 9,065 abstracts there were 23 studies, published between 1995 and 2021, that met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 8,636 patients. The weighted five- and ten-year overall survival was 67% and 37% respectively. Meta-regression identified younger age and primary tumor resection to be associated with better prognosis. Subgroup analyses showed similar results. This study confirms that in an advanced, metastatic setting, the weighted five-year and 10-year overall survival reveal a favorable prognosis, improving over the last few decades. Meta-regression showed that age at diagnosis is an important prognostic factor.