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A Coopes, C E Henry, E Llamosas and C E Ford

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynaecological malignancy in developed nations, and its prevalence is rising as women defer or decide not to have children and as obesity rises, both key risk factors. Despite this, treatment options remain limited, particularly for advanced or refractory disease. New genomic analyses have revealed distinct mutational profiles with therapeutic and prognostic potential. Wnt signalling, which is pivotal in embryogenesis, healing and homeostasis, is of importance in the endometrium and has been linked to carcinogenesis. This review aims to update and discuss the current evidence for the role of β-catenin dependent and independent Wnt signalling, including the ROR receptors in the endometrium and its potential as a therapeutic target, in light of recent trials of Wnt-targeted therapy in multiple tumour types.

Free access

Dorota Dworakowska and Ashley B Grossman

Pituitary adenomas are unique in multiple ways. They are rarely malignant in terms of metastases; yet, they may be aggressive. Their cancerous potential is defined in a classic oncological way by the ability to metastasise, and therefore, it has been crucial to differentiate this process from aggressive behaviour, characterised as a particularly invasive and/or recurrent behaviour and resistance to common modalities of therapy. Recently, however, important changes have been introduced to the diagnosis and management of aggressive and malignant pituitary tumours including the 4th edition of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification for endocrine tumours (2017) as well as ESE Clinical Guidelines (2018), although an attempt to establish predictive and/or prognostic markers of clinical aggressiveness remains difficult. In this review, we focus on a group of pituitary tumours causing significant problems in clinical practice and requiring multidisciplinary input. We summarise updates in definitions of tumour invasiveness, aggressiveness and malignant transformation, as well as histological classification, and emphasise the new considerations regarding aggressive and malignant potential and its relationship to therapeutic strategies.

Open access

Jonathan W Nyce

The activation of TP53 is well known to exert tumor suppressive effects. We have detected a primate-specific adrenal androgen-mediated tumor suppression system in which circulating DHEAS is converted to DHEA specifically in cells in which TP53 has been inactivated. DHEA is an uncompetitive inhibitor of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), an enzyme indispensable for maintaining reactive oxygen species within limits survivable by the cell. Uncompetitive inhibition is otherwise unknown in natural systems because it becomes irreversible in the presence of high concentrations of substrate and inhibitor. In addition to primate-specific circulating DHEAS, a unique, primate-specific sequence motif that disables an activating regulatory site in the glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC) promoter was also required to enable function of this previously unrecognized tumor suppression system. In human somatic cells, loss of TP53 thus triggers activation of DHEAS transport proteins and steroid sulfatase, which converts circulating DHEAS into intracellular DHEA, and hexokinase which increases glucose-6-phosphate substrate concentration. The triggering of these enzymes in the TP53-affected cell combines with the primate-specific G6PC promoter sequence motif that enables G6P substrate accumulation, driving uncompetitive inhibition of G6PD to irreversibility and ROS-mediated cell death. By this catastrophic ‘kill switch’ mechanism, TP53 mutations are effectively prevented from initiating tumorigenesis in the somatic cells of humans, the primate with the highest peak levels of circulating DHEAS. TP53 mutations in human tumors therefore represent fossils of kill switch failure resulting from an age-related decline in circulating DHEAS, a potentially reversible artifact of hominid evolution.

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

Accumulating clinical evidence indicates that diabetic liver cancer patients are less sensitive to intra-arterial chemotherapy than non-diabetic cancer patients. However, the underlying mechanism remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we report that hyperglycemia inhibits AMPK pathway and subsequently reduces adriamycin (ADR)-induced DNA damage, resulting in decreased chemotherapeutic sensitivity of ADR. HepG2 and Bel-7402 cells were treated with ADR in various glucose conditions and then subjected to cell proliferation assay and apoptosis. The IC50 of ADR greatly increased with the increasing concentration of glucose (15 ± 4 nM to 93 ± 39 nM in HepG2, 78 ± 8 nM to 1310 ± 155 nM in Bel-7402). Both FACs and Western blot analysis indicated that high concentration of glucose protected cells from ADR-induced apoptosis. Mouse hepatoma H22 xenografts were established both in db/db diabetic mice and STZ-induced diabetic mice. The inhibitory effect in tumor growth of ADR was significantly reduced in diabetic mice, which could be recovered by insulin therapy. Hyperglycemia greatly ameliorated AMPK activation and H2AX expression caused by ADR treatment. Pretreatment with compound C or AMPK silencing eliminated hyperglycemia reduced cytotoxicity of ADR. However, the impaired cytotoxicity in hyperglycemia was recovered by treatment with AMPK activator AICAR. This study indicates that hyperglycemia impairs the chemotherapeutic sensitivity of ADR by downregulating AMPK pathway and reducing ADR-induced DNA damage.

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Adel T Aref, Andrew D Vincent, Michael E O’Callaghan, Sean A Martin, Peter D Sutherland, Andrew J Hoy, Lisa M Butler and Gary A Wittert

Obese men have lower serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) than comparably aged lean men, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of obesity on PSA and the potential contributing mechanisms. A cohort of 1195 men aged 35 years and over at recruitment, with demographic, anthropometric (BMI, waist circumference (WC)) and serum hormone (serum testosterone, estradiol (E2)) PSA and hematology assessments obtained over two waves was assessed. Men with a history of prostate cancer or missing PSA were excluded, leaving 970 men for the final analysis. Mixed-effects regressions and mediation analyses adjusting for hormonal and volumetric factors explore the potential mechanisms relating obesity to PSA. After adjusting for age, PSA levels were lower in men with greater WC (P = 0.001). In a multivariable model including WC, age, E2/testosterone and PlasV as predictors, no statistically significant associations were observed between with PSA and either WC (P = 0.36) or PlasV (P = 0.49), while strong associations were observed with both E2/testosterone (P < 0.001) and age (P < 0.001). In the mediation analyses with PlasV as the mediator, the average causal mediation effect (ACME) explained roughly 20% of the total effect of WC on PSA (P = 0.31), while when E2/testosterone is a mediator, the ACME explained roughly 50% of the effect (P < 0.001). Our findings indicate that lower PSA levels in obese men, as compared to normal weight men, can be explained both by hormonal changes (elevated E2/testosterone ratio) and hemodilution. Hormonal factors therefore represent a substantial but underappreciated mediating pathway.

Free access

S Prekovic, T Van den Broeck, S Linder, M E van Royen, A B Houtsmuller, F Handle, S Joniau, W Zwart and F Claessens

Prostate cancer (PCa) is among the most common adult malignancies, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men. As PCa is hormone dependent, blockade of the androgen receptor (AR) signaling is an effective therapeutic strategy for men with advanced metastatic disease. The discovery of enzalutamide, a compound that effectively blocks the AR axis and its clinical application has led to a significant improvement in survival time. However, the effect of enzalutamide is not permanent, and resistance to treatment ultimately leads to development of lethal disease, for which there currently is no cure. This review will focus on the molecular underpinnings of enzalutamide resistance, bridging the gap between the preclinical and clinical research on novel therapeutic strategies for combating this lethal stage of prostate cancer.

Free access

Thomas Cuny, Wouter de Herder, Anne Barlier and Leo J Hofland

Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) represent a group of heterogeneous tumors whose incidence increased over the past few years. Around half of patients already present with metastatic disease at the initial diagnosis. Despite extensive efforts, cytotoxic and targeted therapies have provided only limited efficacy for patients with metastatic GEP-NETs, mainly due to the development of a certain state of resistance. One factor contributing to both the failure of systemic therapies and the emergence of an aggressive tumor phenotype may be the tumor microenvironment (TME), comprising dynamic and adaptative assortment of extracellular matrix components and non-neoplastic cells, which surround the tumor niche. Accumulating evidence shows that the TME can simultaneously support both tumor growth and metastasis and contribute to a certain state of resistance to treatment. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the TME of GEP-NETs and discuss the current therapeutic agents that target GEP-NETs and those that could be of interest in the (near) future.

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Andrea Nicolini, Paola Ferrari, Giuseppe Rossi and Angelo Carpi

It has become clearer that advanced cancer, especially advanced breast cancer, is an entirely displayed pathological system that is much more complex than previously considered. However, the direct relationship between tumour growth and immune evasion can represent a general rule governing the pathological cancer system from the initial cancer cells to when the system is entirely displayed. Accordingly, a refined pathobiological model and a novel therapeutic strategy are proposed. The novel therapeutic strategy is based on therapeutically induced conditions (undetectable tumour burden and/or a prolonged tumour ‘resting state’), which enable an efficacious immune response in advanced breast and other types of solid cancers.

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James F Powers, Brent Cochran, James D Baleja, Hadley D Sikes, Xue Zhang, Inna Lomakin, Troy Langford, Kassi Taylor Stein and Arthur S Tischler

We describe a unique patient-derived xenograft (PDX) and cell culture model of succinate dehydrogenase-deficient gastrointestinal stromal tumor (SDH-deficient GIST), a rare mesenchymal tumor that can occur in association with paragangliomas in hereditary and non-hereditary syndromes. This model is potentially important for what it might reveal specifically pertinent to this rare tumor type and, more broadly, to other types of SDH-deficient tumors. The primary tumor and xenografts show a very high proliferative fraction, and distinctive morphology characterized by tiny cells with marked autophagic activity. It is likely that these characteristics resulted from the combination of the germline SDHB mutation and a somatic KRAS G12D mutation. The most broadly relevant findings to date concern oxygen and oxidative stress. In paragangliomas harboring SDHx mutations, both hypoxic signaling and oxidative stress are putative drivers of tumor growth. However, there are no models for SDH-deficient paragangliomas. This related model is the first from a SDHB-mutated human tumor that can be experimentally manipulated to study mechanisms of oxygen effects and novel treatment strategies. Our data suggest that tumor growth and survival require a balance between protective effects of hypoxic signaling vs deleterious effects of oxidative stress. While reduced oxygen concentration promotes tumor cell survival, a further survival benefit is achieved with antioxidants. This suggests potential use of drugs that increase oxidative stress as novel therapies. In addition, autophagy, which has not been reported as a major finding in any type of SDH-deficient tumor, is a potential target of agents that might trigger autophagic cell death.

Free access

Christina Wei and Elizabeth C Crowne

Endocrine abnormalities are common among childhood cancer survivors. Abnormalities of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPAA) are relatively less common, but the consequences are severe if missed. Patients with tumours located and/or had surgery performed near the hypothalamic–pituitary region and those treated with an accumulative cranial radiotherapy dose of over 30 Gy are most at risk of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) deficiency. Primary adrenal insufficiency may occur in patients with tumours located in or involving one or both adrenals. The effects of adjunct therapies also need to be considered, particularly, new immunotherapies. High-dose and/or prolonged courses of glucocorticoid treatment can result in secondary adrenal insufficiency, which may take months to resolve and hence reassessment is important to ensure patients are not left on long-term replacement steroids inappropriately. The prevalence and cumulative incidences of HPAA dysfunction are difficult to quantify because of its non-specific presentation and lack of consensus regarding its investigations. The insulin tolerance test remains the gold standard for the diagnosis of central cortisol deficiency, but due to its risks, alternative methods with reduced diagnostic sensitivities are often used and must be interpreted with caution. ACTH deficiency may develop many years after the completion of oncological treatment alongside other pituitary hormone deficiencies. It is essential that health professionals involved in the long-term follow-up of childhood cancer survivors are aware of individuals at risk of developing HPAA dysfunction and implement appropriate monitoring and treatment.