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Guido Rindi and Frediano Inzani

Neuroendocrine neoplasia is described in almost every tissue, either in the pure endocrine organs, the nerve structures or in the so-called diffuse neuroendocrine system. The current nomenclature contains time-honored, widely accepted definitions; however, it is different according to anatomical sites. Diverse definitions may generate confusion and non-standard patient management. The International Agency for Research on Cancer – World Health Organization (IARC-WHO) proposed a framework for universal classification of neuroendocrine neoplasia. Evidence indicates that neuroendocrine cancer is composed by cells with a distinctive phenotype characterized by the expression of general and specific neuroendocrine markers. The neuroendocrine phenotype is indicated as descriptor of a unique cancer category, now recommended for all organs as neuroendocrine neoplasm. Evidence indicates that neuroendocrine neoplasia may be well or poorly differentiated, with diverse incidence and prevalence in different organs. It is proposed that the well-differentiated neoplasm is universally defined as neuroendocrine tumor (NET) and the poorly differentiated as neoplasm neuroendocrine carcinoma (NEC). Evidence indicates that a cancer grading tool based on a proliferation measure by mitotic count, Ki67 % and/or necrosis assessment is useful to predict NET patient behavior. It is proposed to utilize this tool for grading NET universally, with site-specific cut-offs to be defined. It is also acknowledged that significant biological site-specific differences exist. It is recommended that current pathology reports contain this classification together with the current traditional classifiers. This IARC-WHO common classification framework for neuroendocrine neoplasm aims at uniformizing nomenclature toward different organs and at fostering the definition of a similar site-specific gene signature.

Free access

Silvia Pizzi, Cinzia Azzoni, Elisa Tamburini, Lorena Bottarelli, Nicoletta Campanini, Tiziana D'Adda, Giovanni Fellegara, Tu Vinh Luong, Claudio Pasquali, Giulio Rossi, Gianfranco Delle Fave, Roberta Camisa, Cesare Bordi, and Guido Rindi

The role of Wnt pathway in digestive endocrine tumours is debated. The aim of this work is to investigate key players in Wnt pathway by a multimodal approach. Sixty cases (49 well-differentiated and 11 poorly differentiated) were investigated for methylation of adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and E-cadherin promoters, the loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at APC locus and β -catenin and E-cadherin expression by immunohistochemistry. Tumours showing altered β-catenin localization were tested for β -catenin and APC mutations. APC promoter methylation was restricted to gastroduodenal tumours (21 out of 59, 36%), prevalent in poorly differentiated carcinomas (P=0.042) and correlating with aggressive features (high histology grade, P<0.02; tumour death, P=0.026; high fractional allelic loss, P=0.002, in turn correlating with short survival, P=0.017). LOH at APC locus was found in 14 out of 53 cases (26%, 10 gastroduodenal and 4 colorectal), prevalent in poorly differentiated carcinomas (P=0.002) and correlating with histology grade (P=0.012). β -catenin abnormal expression was found in 41 out of 54 cases (76%), with nuclear staining correlating with APC alteration (P=0.047) and short survival (P=0.006). APC, but not β -catenin, gene mutations were found (7 out of 35 tumours), 4 of which in the midgut. E-cadherin promoter methylation was rarely detected (2 out of 52 cases), with cytoplasmic expression in 18 out of 43 cases (42%), not correlating with any clinico-pathological feature. In conclusion, Wnt pathway alterations, as represented by abnormal β-catenin localization, are common events in digestive endocrine tumours, but only nuclear expression correlates with tumour aggressiveness. Though with different alteration mechanisms according to anatomical site, APC plays a major role in Wnt pathway activation and in determining the high chromosomal instability observed in aggressive endocrine carcinomas.

Open access

Martyn E Caplin, Marianne Pavel, Jarosław B Ćwikła, Alexandria T Phan, Markus Raderer, Eva Sedláčková, Guillaume Cadiot, Edward M Wolin, Jaume Capdevila, Lucy Wall, Guido Rindi, Alison Langley, Séverine Martinez, Edda Gomez-Panzani, Philippe Ruszniewski, and on behalf of the CLARINET Investigators

In the CLARINET study, lanreotide Autogel (depot in USA) significantly prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with metastatic pancreatic/intestinal neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). We report long-term safety and additional efficacy data from the open-label extension (OLE). Patients with metastatic grade 1/2 (Ki-67 ≤10%) non-functioning NET and documented baseline tumour-progression status received lanreotide Autogel 120 mg (n=101) or placebo (n=103) for 96 weeks or until death/progressive disease (PD) in CLARINET study. Patients with stable disease (SD) at core study end (lanreotide/placebo) or PD (placebo only) continued or switched to lanreotide in the OLE. In total, 88 patients (previously: lanreotide, n=41; placebo, n=47) participated: 38% had pancreatic, 39% midgut and 23% other/unknown primary tumours. Patients continuing lanreotide reported fewer adverse events (AEs) (all and treatment-related) during OLE than core study. Placebo-to-lanreotide switch patients reported similar AE rates in OLE and core studies, except more diarrhoea was considered treatment-related in OLE (overall diarrhoea unchanged). Median lanreotide PFS (core study randomisation to PD in core/OLE; n=101) was 32.8 months (95% CI: 30.9, 68.0). A sensitivity analysis, addressing potential selection bias by assuming that patients with SD on lanreotide in the core study and not entering the OLE (n=13) had PD 24 weeks after last core assessment, found median PFS remaining consistent: 30.8 months (95% CI: 30.0, 31.3). Median time to further PD after placebo-to-lanreotide switch (n=32) was 14.0 months (10.1; not reached). This OLE study suggests long-term treatment with lanreotide Autogel 120 mg maintained favourable safety/tolerability. CLARINET OLE data also provide new evidence of lanreotide anti-tumour benefits in indolent and progressive pancreatic/intestinal NETs.