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Vanida A Serna, Xin Wu, Wenan Qiang, Justin Thomas, Michael L Blumenfeld and Takeshi Kurita

Cellular mechanisms of uterine leiomyoma (LM) formation have been studied primarily utilizing in vitro models. However, recent studies established that the cells growing in the primary cultures of MED12-mutant LM (MED12-LM) do not carry causal mutations. To improve the accuracy of LM research, we addressed the cellular mechanisms of LM growth and regression utilizing a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model, which faithfully replicates the patient tumors in situ. The growth and maintenance of MED12-LMs depend on 17β-estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4). We determined E2 and P4-activated MAPK and PI3K pathways in PDXs with upregulation of IGF1 and IGF2, suggesting that the hormone actions on MED12-LM are mediated by the IGF pathway. When hormones were removed, MED12-LM PDXs lost approximately 60% of volume within 3 days through reduction in cell size. However, in contrast to general belief, the survival of LM cells was independent of E2 and/or P4, and apoptosis was not involved in the tumor regression. Furthermore, it was postulated that abnormal collagen fibers promote the growth of LMs. However, collagen fibers of actively growing PDXs were well aligned. The disruption of collagen fibers, as found in human LM specimens, occurred only when the volume of PDXs had grown to over 20 times the volume of unstimulated PDXs, indicating disruption is the result of growth not the cause. Hence, this study revises generally accepted theories on the growth and regression of LMs.

Open access

J Crona, F Beuschlein, K Pacak and B Skogseid

This review aims to provide clinicians and researchers with a condensed update on the most important studies in the field during 2017. We present the academic output measured by active clinical trials and peer-reviewed published manuscripts. The most important and contributory manuscripts were summarized for each diagnostic entity, with a particular focus on manuscripts that describe translational research that have the potential to improve clinical care. Finally, we highlight the importance of collaborations in adrenal tumor research, which allowed for these recent advances and provide structures for future success in this scientific field.

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Chiara Verdelli, Irene Forno, Annamaria Morotti, Pasquale Creo, Vito Guarnieri, Alfredo Scillitani, Filomena Cetani, Leonardo Vicentini, Gianni Balza, Edoardo Beretta, Stefano Ferrero, Valentina Vaira and Sabrina Corbetta

Parathyroid tumors deregulate microRNAs belonging to the two clusters on the chromosome 19, the C19MC and miR-371-373 clusters. Here, we report that the embryonic miR-372 is aberrantly expressed in half of parathyroid adenomas (PAds) in most of atypical adenomas and carcinomas (n = 15). Through in situ hybridization, we identified that miR-372-positive parathyroid tumor cells were scattered throughout the tumor parenchyma. In PAd-derived cells, ectopic miR-372 inhibited the expression of its targets CDKN1A/p21 and LATS2 at both mRNA and protein levels. Although the viability of parathyroid cells was not affected by miR-372 overexpression, the miRNA blunted camptothecin-induced apoptosis in primary PAd-derived cultures. miR-372 overexpression in parathyroid tumor cells increased parathormone (PTH) mRNA levels, and it positively correlated in vivo with circulating PTH levels. Conversely, the parathyroid-specific genes TBX1 and GCM2 were not affected by miR-372 mimic transfection. Finally, miR-372 dampened the Wnt pathway in parathyroid tumor cells through DKK1 upregulation. In conclusion, miR-372 is a novel mechanism exploited by a subset of parathyroid tumor cells to partially decrease sensitivity to apoptosis, to increase PTH synthesis and to deregulate Wnt signaling.

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Hiroki Ueda, Yoshimitsu Akiyama, Shu Shimada, Kaoru Mogushi, Misaki Serizawa, Satoshi Matsumura, Yusuke Mitsunori, Arihiro Aihara, Daisuke Ban, Takanori Ochiai, Atsushi Kudo, Minoru Tanabe and Shinji Tanaka

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) have considerable malignant potential. Frequent somatic mutations and loss of DAXX protein expression have been found in PanNETs. DAXX is known as a transcriptional repressor; however, molecular functions underlying DAXX loss remain unclear in PanNETs. We evaluated DAXX expression by immunohistochemistry in 44 PanNETs. DAXX-knockdown (KD) and -knockout (KO) PanNET cells were analyzed for in vitro and vivo. The target genes were screened by microarray and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays for DAXX, histone H3.3 and H3K9me3 complex. In clinicopathological features, low DAXX expression was significantly correlated with nonfunctional tumors, higher Ki-67 index and WHO grade. Microarray and ChIP assays of DAXX-KD/KO identified 12 genes as the direct targets of DAXX transcriptional repressor. Among them, expression of five genes including STC2 was suppressed by DAXX/H3.3/H3K9me3 pathway. DAXX-KD/KO cells enhanced sphere forming activity, but its effect was suppressed by knockdown of STC2. In xenograft models, tumorigenicity and tumor vessel density were significantly increased in DAXX-KO cells with high expression of STC2. Clinically, higher recurrence rate was recognized in PanNETs with low expression of DAXX and high expression of STC2 than others (P = 0.018). Our data suggest that DAXX plays as a tumor suppressor and DAXX/H3.3 complex suppresses target genes by promoting H3K9me3 in PanNETs. Combination of DAXX loss and its target gene STC2 overexpression might be effective biomarkers and therapeutic candidates.

Open access

Yong-Zi Chen, Youngchul Kim, Hatem H Soliman, GuoGuang Ying and Jae K Lee

ER-negative breast cancer includes most aggressive subtypes of breast cancer such as triple negative (TN) breast cancer. Excluded from hormonal and targeted therapies effectively used for other subtypes of breast cancer, standard chemotherapy is one of the primary treatment options for these patients. However, as ER− patients have shown highly heterogeneous responses to different chemotherapies, it has been difficult to select most beneficial chemotherapy treatments for them. In this study, we have simultaneously developed single drug biomarker models for four standard chemotherapy agents: paclitaxel (T), 5-fluorouracil (F), doxorubicin (A) and cyclophosphamide (C) to predict responses and survival of ER− breast cancer patients treated with combination chemotherapies. We then flexibly combined these individual drug biomarkers for predicting patient outcomes of two independent cohorts of ER− breast cancer patients who were treated with different drug combinations of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. These individual and combined drug biomarker models significantly predicted chemotherapy response for 197 ER− patients in the Hatzis cohort (AUC = 0.637, P = 0.002) and 69 ER− patients in the Hess cohort (AUC = 0.635, P = 0.056). The prediction was also significant for the TN subgroup of both cohorts (AUC = 0.60, 0.72, P = 0.043, 0.009). In survival analysis, our predicted responder patients showed significantly improved survival with a >17 months longer median PFS than the predicted non-responder patients for both ER− and TN subgroups (log-rank test P-value = 0.018 and 0.044). This flexible prediction capability based on single drug biomarkers may allow us to even select new drug combinations most beneficial to individual patients with ER− breast cancer.

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M Fuertes, M Sapochnik, L Tedesco, S Senin, A Attorresi, P Ajler, G Carrizo, A Cervio, G Sevlever, J J Bonfiglio, G K Stalla and E Arzt

Increased levels of the proto-oncogene pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1 (PTTG) have been repeatedly reported in several human solid tumors, especially in endocrine-related tumors such as pituitary adenomas. Securin PTTG has a critical role in pituitary tumorigenesis. However, the cause of upregulation has not been found yet, despite analyses made at the gene, promoter and mRNA level that show that no mutations, epigenetic modifications or other mechanisms that deregulate its expression may explain its overexpression and action as an oncogene. We describe that high PTTG protein levels are induced by the RWD-containing sumoylation enhancer (RWDD3 or RSUME), a protein originally identified in the same pituitary tumor cell line in which PTTG was also cloned. We demonstrate that PTTG and RSUME have a positive expression correlation in human pituitary adenomas. RSUME increases PTTG protein in pituitary tumor cell lines, prolongs the half-life of PTTG protein and regulates the PTTG induction by estradiol. As a consequence, RSUME enhances PTTG transcription factor and securin activities. PTTG hyperactivity on the cell cycle resulted in recurrent and unequal divisions without cytokinesis, and the consequential appearance of aneuploidies and multinucleated cells in the tumor. RSUME knockdown diminishes securin PTTG and reduces its tumorigenic potential in a xenograft mouse model. Taken together, our findings show that PTTG high protein steady state levels account for PTTG tumor abundance and demonstrate a critical role of RSUME in this process in pituitary tumor cells.

Open access

Andrew G Gianoukakis, Corina E Dutcus, Nicolas Batty, Matthew Guo and Mahadi Baig

We present an updated analysis of lenvatinib in radioiodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (RR-DTC) with new duration of response (DOR) data unavailable for the primary analysis. In this randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled phase 3 study, patients ≥18 years old with measurable, pathologically confirmed RR-DTC with independent radiologic confirmation of disease progression within the previous 13 months were randomized 2:1 to oral lenvatinib 24 mg/day or placebo. The main outcome measures for this analysis are DOR and progression-free survival (PFS). The median DOR for all lenvatinib responders (patients with complete or partial responses; objective response rate: 60.2%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 54.2–66.1) was 30.0 months (95% CI 18.4–36.7) and was generally similar across subgroups. DOR was shorter in patients with greater disease burden and with brain and liver metastases. Updated median PFS was longer in the overall lenvatinib group vs placebo (19.4 vs 3.7 months; hazard ratio (HR) 0.24; 99% CI 0.17–0.35; nominal P < 0.0001). In lenvatinib responders, median PFS was 33.1 months (95% CI 27.8–44.6) vs 7.9 months (95% CI 5.8–10.7) in non-responders. The median DOR of 30.0 months seen with patients who achieved complete or partial responses with lenvatinib (60.2%) demonstrates that lenvatinib responders can have prolonged, durable and clinically meaningful responses. Prolonged PFS (33.1 months) was also observed in these lenvatinib responders.

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Chen Wang, Xin Zhang, Xue Yang, Hui Li, Ruixue Cui, Wenmin Guan, Xin Li, Zhaohui Zhu and Yansong Lin

This work evaluated the use of the positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) technique to assess the early therapeutic response and predict the prognosis of patients with radioactive iodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (RAIR-DTC) who underwent apatinib therapy. Standardised uptake value (SUV), metabolic tumour volume (MTV) and total lesion glycolysis (TLG), derived from 18F-FDG PET/CT and SUV from 68Ga-NOTA-PRGD2 PET/CT were evaluated. Tumour response was evaluated using the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) 1.1. Sixteen of 20 patients achieved partial response (PR) and four of 20 had stable disease (SD) after apatinib therapy. Six progression-free survival (PFS) events occurred. A strong correlation was observed between the best change in the sum of the longest diameters of target lesions (ΔCT%) and 18F-FDG PET/CT indices after the completion of the first treatment cycle (ΔMTV% (P = 0.0019), ΔTLG% (P = 0.0021) and ΔSUVmax% (P = 0.0443)). A significant difference in PFS was observed between patients with ΔMTV% <−45% and ≥−45% (P = 0.0019) and between patients with ΔTLG% <−80% and ≥−80% (P = 0.0065). Ten of 11 patients presented a decrease in SUVmax on 68Ga-NOTA-PRGD2 PET/CT after two cycles of apatinib therapy and showed PR, whereas one patient presenting an increase in SUVmax only showed SD as the best response. When a cut-off value of the target/background ratio at −20% was used, two PFS curves showed a significant difference (P = 0.0016). Hence, early assessment by 18F-FDG and 68Ga-NOTA-PRGD2 PET/CT was effective in the prediction and evaluation of RAIR-DTC treated with apatinib.

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Giovanni Vitale, Alessandra Dicitore, Concetta Sciammarella, Sergio Di Molfetta, Manila Rubino, Antongiulio Faggiano and Annamaria Colao

Somatostatin analogs have an important role in the medical therapy of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Octreotide and lanreotide, both somatostatin analogs binding with high affinity for the somatostatin receptor (SSTR)2, can control symptoms in functional NETs. In addition, these compounds, because of their antiproliferative effects, can stabilize growth of well-differentiated NETs. Pasireotide is a novel multireceptor-targeted somatostatin analog with high affinity for SSTR1, 2, 3, and 5. This review provides an overview of the state of the art of pasireotide in the treatment of NETs, with the aim of addressing clinical relevance and future perspectives for this molecule in the management of NETs.

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Maria Chiara Zatelli, Elia Guadagno, Erika Messina, Fabio Lo Calzo, Antongiulio Faggiano, Annamaria Colao and NIKE Group

The recent recognition that grade 3 (G3) neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) can be divided into two different categories according to the histopathological differentiation, that is G3 neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) and G3 neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) has generated a lot of interest concerning not only the diagnosis, but also the differential management of such new group of NENs. However, several issues need to be fully clarified in order to put G3 NETs and G3 NECs in the right place. The aim of this review is to focus on those issues that are still undetermined starting from the current knowledge, evaluating the available evidence and the possible clinical implications.