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Open access

James Yao, Abhishek Garg, David Chen, Jaume Capdevila, Paul Engstrom, Rodney Pommier, Eric Van Cutsem, Simron Singh, Nicola Fazio, Wei He, Markus Riester, Parul Patel, Maurizio Voi, Michael Morrissey, Marianne Pavel and Matthew Helmut Kulke

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) have historically been subcategorized according to histologic features and the site of anatomic origin. Here, we characterize the genomic alterations in patients enrolled in three phase 3 clinical trials of NET of different anatomic origins and assess the potential correlation with clinical outcomes. Whole-exome and targeted panel sequencing was used to characterize 225 NET samples collected in the RADIANT series of clinical trials. Genomic profiling of NET was analyzed along with nongenomic biomarker data on the tumor grade and circulating chromogranin A (CgA) and neuron-specific enolase (NSE) levels from these patients enrolled in clinical trials. Our results highlight recurrent large-scale chromosomal alterations as a common theme among NET. Although the specific pattern of chromosomal alterations differed between tumor subtypes, the evidence for generalized chromosomal instability (CIN) was observed across all primary sites of NET. In pancreatic NET, although the P value was not significant, higher CIN suggests a trend toward longer survival (HR, 0.55, P = 0.077), whereas in the gastrointestinal NET, lower CIN was associated with longer survival (HR, 0.44, P = 0.0006). Our multivariate analyses demonstrated that when combined with other clinical data among patients with progressive advanced NETs, chromosomal level alteration adds important prognostic information. Large-scale CIN is a common feature of NET, and specific patterns of chromosomal gain and loss appeared to have independent prognostic value in NET subtypes. However, whether CIN in general has clinical significance in NET requires validation in larger patient cohort and warrants further mechanistic studies.

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Taymeyah Al-Toubah, Stefano Partelli, Mauro Cives, Valentina Andreasi, Franco Silvestris, Massimo Falconi, Daniel A Anaya and Jonathan Strosberg

New systemic treatments have improved the therapeutic landscape for patients with metastatic gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs). While drugs such as everolimus, sunitinib, temozolomide and 177Lutetium-dotatate are appropriate for patients with widespread disease progression, local treatment approaches may be more appropriate for patients with unifocal progression. Surgical resection, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), hepatic arterial embolization (HAE) or radiation, can control discrete sites of progression, allowing patients to continue their existing therapy and sparing them toxicities of a new systemic treatment. We identified 69 patients with metastatic GEP-NETs who underwent a local treatment for focal progression in the setting of widespread metastases. Twenty-six percent underwent resection, 27% RFA, 23% external beam radiation and 23% selective HAE. With a median follow-up of 25 months, 42 (61%) patients subsequently progressed to the point of requiring additional intervention (12 locoregional, 30 systemic) for disease control. Median time to new systemic treatment was 32 months (95% CI, 16.5–47.5 months). Median time to any additional intervention was 19 months (95% CI, 8.7–25.3 months). Control of local sites of progression enabled the majority of patients to remain on their existing systemic treatment and avoid potential toxicities associated with salvage systemic therapy.

Open access

Fabia De Oliveira Andrade, Wei Yu, Xiyuan Zhang, Elissa Carney, Rong Hu, Robert Clarke, Kevin FitzGerald and Leena Hilakivi-Clarke

Resistance to endocrine therapy remains a clinical challenge in the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. We investigated if adding a traditional Asian herbal mixture consisting of 12 herbs, called Jaeumkanghwa-tang (JEKHT), to tamoxifen (TAM) therapy might prevent resistance and recurrence in the ER+ breast cancer model of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-exposed Sprague–Dawley rats. Rats were divided into four groups treated as follows: 15 mg/kg TAM administered via diet as TAM citrate (TAM only); 500 mg/kg JEKHT administered via drinking water (JEKHT only group); TAM + JEKHT and no treatment control group. The study was replicated using two different batches of JEKHT. In both studies, a significantly higher proportion of ER+ mammary tumors responded to TAM if animals also were treated with JEKHT (experiment 1: 47% vs 65%, P = 0.015; experiment 2: 43% vs 77%, P < 0.001). The risk of local recurrence also was reduced (31% vs 12%, P = 0.002). JEKHT alone was mostly ineffective. In addition, JEKHT prevented the development of premalignant endometrial lesions in TAM-treated rats (20% in TAM only vs 0% in TAM + JEKHT). Co-treatment of antiestrogen-resistant LCC9 human breast cancer cells with 1.6 mg/mL JEKHT reversed their TAM resistance in dose–response studies in vitro. Several traditional herbal medicine preparations can exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and may increase anti-tumor immune activities in the tumor microenvironment. In the tumors of rats treated with both JEKHT and TAM, expression of Il-6 (P = 0.03), Foxp3/T regulatory cell (Treg) marker (P = 0.033) and Tgfβ1 that activates Tregs (P < 0.001) were significantly downregulated compared with TAM only group. These findings indicate that JEKHT may prevent TAM-induced evasion of tumor immune responses.

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Florian Bösch, Katharina Brüwer, Annelore Altendorf-Hofmann, Christoph J Auernhammer, Christine Spitzweg, C Benedikt Westphalen, Stefan Boeck, Gabriele Schubert-Fritschle, Jens Werner, Volker Heinemann, Thomas Kirchner, Martin Angele and Thomas Knösel

Cancer immunotherapy has evolved major breakthroughs in the last years. The cell-surface receptor programmed death-1 (PD-1) and its ligand, programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1), have been detected in various cancer types. However, the analysis on gastroenteropancreatic neoplasia (GEP-NENs) is limited. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterize GEP-NENs with regard to PD-1/PD-L1 pathway and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). On protein level, we examined TILs, PD-1 and PD-L1 expression in tumor tissue of 244 GEP-NENs using immunohistochemistry. Expression levels were correlated with clinicopathological parameters including long-term survival in an observational study. In total, 244 patients could be included. Most of the patients had a NEN of the small intestine (52.5%) or the pancreas (29.5%). All tumors could be graded by their morphology and Ki67 index, with 57.8% G1, 34% G2 and 8.2% G3 tumors. High TILs (19.6%) and high PD-1 (16.1%) expression showed a significant correlation with shorter patient survival (P < 0.05) and with a higher grading. Furthermore, expression of PD-L1 (8.7%) showed a trend to shorter patient survival. High TILs and PD-1 expression are significantly associated with shorter patient survival and higher grading in GEP-NENs. PD-L1 expression showed a trend to shorter patient survival. Immunotherapy might be a promising therapeutic approach in GEP-NENs especially in tumors with high TILs.

Free access

Johannes Hofland, Aura D Herrera-Martínez, Wouter T Zandee and Wouter W de Herder

Carcinoid syndrome (CS) is a debilitating disease caused by functional neuroendocrine tumors. Several treatment options are available to alleviate the hormonal symptoms, but their relative efficacy is unknown. Online databases were searched for publications on the treatment of CS symptoms. Independent reviewers assessed relevant publications for study quality and outcome. Meta-analysis of the outcomes of the intervention on CS-related symptoms was stratified by the type of treatment. We found 3682 therapeutic interventions on CS-specific outcomes were collected from 93 studies. Overall, the study qualities were poor with only six randomized controlled clinical trials. The somatostatin analogs octreotide and lanreotide induced symptomatic improvement in 65–72% and biochemical response in 45–46% of patients. An increase in dose or frequency or interclass switch led to a reduction of flushes and/or diarrhea in 72–84% of cases. Retrospective, institutional series showed that liver-directed therapy can improve symptoms in 82% of CS patients with a liver-dominant disease. The serotonin synthesis inhibitor telotristat ethyl reduced bowel movements in 40% of patients with diarrhea refractory to somatostatin analogs. Interferon-alpha controlled CS symptoms in 45–63% of cases. Favorable response has been noted after radionuclide therapy in subgroup analyses of studies not specifically involving CS patients. Chemotherapy and everolimus did not induce a significant response in the CS. We conclude that several treatment lines can be offered to patients suffering from the carcinoid syndrome. Initiation of randomized controlled trials with a primary outcome on carcinoid syndrome symptoms is strongly recommended.

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S G Creemers, P M van Koetsveld, W W De Herder, F Dogan, G J H Franssen, R A Feelders and L J Hofland

Chemotherapy for adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) has limited efficacy and is accompanied by severe toxicity. This lack of effectiveness has been associated with high tumoral levels of the multidrug resistance (MDR) pump P-glycoprotein (P-gp), encoded by the MDR1 gene. In this study, effects of P-gp inhibition on the sensitivity of ACC cells to cytotoxic drugs were evaluated. MDR1 mRNA and P-gp expression were determined in human adrenal tissues and cell lines. H295R, HAC15 and SW13 cells were treated with mitotane, doxorubicin, etoposide, cisplatin and streptozotocin, with or without the P-gp inhibitors verapamil and tariquidar. Cell growth and surviving fraction of colonies were assessed. MDR1 mRNA and P-gp protein expression were lower in ACCs than in adrenocortical adenomas (P < 0.0001; P < 0.01, respectively). MDR1 and P-gp expression were positively correlated in ACC (P < 0.0001, ρ = 0.723). Mitotane, doxorubicin, cisplatin and etoposide dose dependently inhibited cell growth in H295R, HAC15 and SW13. Tariquidar, and in H295R also verapamil, increased the response of HAC15 and H295R to doxorubicin (6.3- and 7.5-fold EC50 decrease in H295R, respectively; all P < 0.0001). Sensitivity to etoposide was increased in H295R and HAC15 by verapamil and tariquidar (all P < 0.0001). Findings were confirmed when assessing colony formation. We show that cytotoxic drugs, except streptozotocin, used for ACC treatment, inhibit ACC cell growth and colony formation at clinically achievable concentrations. P-gp inhibition increases sensitivity to doxorubicin and etoposide, suggesting that MDR1 is involved in sensitivity to these drugs and could be a potential target for cytotoxic treatment improvement in ACC.

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Charlotte Veyrat-Durebex, Nathalie Bouzamondo, Morgane Le Mao, Juan Manuel Chao de la Barca, Céline Bris, Xavier Dieu, Gilles Simard, Cédric Gadras, Lydie Tessier, Delphine Drui, Françoise Borson-Chazot, Anne Barlier, Pascal Reynier and Delphine Prunier-Mirebeau

Thirty percent of medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTCs) are related to dominant germline pathogenic variants in the RET proto-oncogene. According to their aggressiveness, these pathogenic variants are classified in three risk levels: ‘moderate’, ‘high’ and ‘highest’. The present study compares the metabolomics profiles of five pathogenic variants, whether already classified or not. We have generated six stable murine fibroblast cell lines (NIH3T3) expressing the WT allele or variants of the human RET gene, with different levels of pathogenicity, including the M918V variant that is yet to be accurately classified. We carried out a targeted metabolomics study of the cell extracts with a QTRAP mass spectrometer, using the Biocrates Absolute IDQ p180 kit, which allows the quantification of 188 endogenous molecules. The data were then subjected to multivariate statistical analysis. One hundred seventy three metabolites were accurately measured. The metabolic profiles of the cells expressing the RET variants were found to be correlated with their oncogenic risk. In addition, the statistical model we constructed for predicting the oncogenic risk attributed a moderate risk to the M918V variant. Our results indicate that metabolomics may be useful for characterizing the pathogenicity of the RET gene variants and their levels of aggressiveness.

Free access

Aura D Herrera-Martínez, Leo J Hofland, María A Gálvez Moreno, Justo P Castaño, Wouter W de Herder and Richard A Feelders

Some biomarkers for functioning and non-functioning neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) are currently available. Despite their application in clinical practice, results should be interpreted cautiously. Considering the variable sensitivity and specificity of these parameters, there is an unmet need for novel biomarkers to improve diagnosis and predict patient outcome. Nowadays, several new biomarkers are being evaluated and may become future tools for the management of NENs. These biomarkers include (1) peptides and growth factors; (2) DNA and RNA markers based on genomics analysis, for example, the so-called NET test, which has been developed for analyzing gene transcripts in circulating blood; (3) circulating tumor/endothelial/progenitor cells or cell-free tumor DNA, which represent minimally invasive methods that would provide additional information for monitoring treatment response and (4) improved imaging techniques with novel radiolabeled somatostatin analogs or peptides. Below we summarize some future directions in the development of novel diagnostic and predictive/prognostic biomarkers in NENs. This review is focused on circulating and selected tissue markers.

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Zhe Wang, Ke Ma, Steffie Pitts, Yulan Cheng, Xi Liu, Xiquan Ke, Samuel Kovaka, Hassan Ashktorab, Duane T Smoot, Michael Schatz, Zhirong Wang and Stephen J Meltzer

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a new class of RNA involved in multiple human malignancies. However, limited information exists regarding the involvement of circRNAs in gastric carcinoma (GC). Therefore, we sought to identify novel circRNAs, their functions and mechanisms in gastric carcinogenesis. We analyzed next-generation RNA sequencing data from GC tissues and cell lines, identifying 75,201 candidate circRNAs. Among these, we focused on one novel circRNA, circNF1, which was upregulated in GC tissues and cell lines. Loss- and gain-of-function studies demonstrated that circNF1 significantly promotes cell proliferation. Furthermore, luciferase reporter assays showed that circNF1 binds to miR-16, thereby derepressing its downstream target mRNAs, MAP7 and AKT3. Targeted silencing or overexpression of circNF1 had no effect on levels of its linear RNA counterpart, NF1. Taken together, these results suggest that circNF1 acts as a novel oncogenic circRNA in GC by functioning as a miR-16 sponge.

Free access

Rabii Ameziane El Hassani, Camille Buffet, Sophie Leboulleux and Corinne Dupuy

At physiological concentrations, reactive oxygen species (ROS), including superoxide anions and H2O2, are considered as second messengers that play key roles in cellular functions, such as proliferation, gene expression, host defence and hormone synthesis. However, when they are at supraphysiological levels, ROS are considered potent DNA-damaging agents. Their increase induces oxidative stress, which can initiate and maintain genomic instability. The thyroid gland represents a good model for studying the impact of oxidative stress on genomic instability. Indeed, one particularity of this organ is that follicular thyroid cells synthesise thyroid hormones through a complex mechanism that requires H2O2. Because of their detection in thyroid adenomas and in early cell transformation, both oxidative stress and DNA damage are believed to be neoplasia-preceding events in thyroid cells. Oxidative DNA damage is, in addition, detected in the advanced stages of thyroid cancer, suggesting that oxidative lesions of DNA also contribute to the maintenance of genomic instability during the subsequent phases of tumourigenesis. Finally, ionizing radiation and the mutation of oncogenes, such as RAS and BRAF, play a key role in thyroid carcinogenesis through separate and unique mechanisms: they upregulate the expression of two distinct ‘professional’ ROS-generating systems, the NADPH oxidases DUOX1 and NOX4, which cause DNA damage that may promote chromosomal instability, tumourigenesis and dedifferentiation.