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M L Jaffrain-Rea, D Di Stefano, G Minniti, V Esposito, A Bultrini, E Ferretti, A Santoro, L Faticanti Scucchi, A Gulino, and G Cantore

Pituitary tumours are usually benign neoplasia, but may have a locally aggressive or malignant evolution. This study aimed to identify factors which mostly influence their proliferative activity, in order to clarify its value for clinical and research purposes. The proliferative index was determined in a prospective series of 132 pituitary tumours as the percentage of monoclonal antibody MIB-1-immunopositive cells and referred to as the MIB-1 labelling index (LI). Its distribution was analysed according to both univariate and multivariate models. A life-threatening pituitary tumour is presented separately. The mean LI was 1.24+/-1.59%, with significant differences between clinically secreting (CS) and clinically non-secreting (CNS) adenomas. In CS adenomas (n=65), LI was highly variable and markedly influenced by pre-operative pharmacological treatment (0.80+/-1.03 vs 2.06+/-2.39% in treated vs untreated cases, P=0.009); it decreased with patient's age (P=0.025, r=0.28) and increased with tumour volume and invasiveness. The influence of pre-operative treatment and macroscopic features on LI in this group was confirmed by multivariate analysis. In CNS adenomas (n=67), LI distribution was less variable than in CS adenomas (P<0.0001), it was age-independent and correlations with tumour volume, invasiveness or recurrence did not reach significance. In a rapidly growing parasellar tumour, the mean LI was 24% at first surgery and exceeded 50% at second surgery performed 4 months later. LI should be interpreted according to hormone secretion and pre-operative treatment. Unusually high LI values deserve particular attention.

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Wassim Chemaitilly and Charles A Sklar

Endocrine disturbances are among the most frequently reported complications in childhood cancer survivors, affecting between 20 and 50% of individuals who survive into adulthood. Most endocrine complications are the result of prior cancer treatments, especially radiotherapy. The objective of the present review is to discuss the main endocrine complications observed in this population, including disorders of the hypothalamic–pituitary axis, disorders of pubertal development, thyroid dysfunction, gonadal dysfunction, decreased bone mineral density, obesity, and alterations in glucose metabolism with a special focus on recent findings reported from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study.

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Michael Solarski, Fabio Rotondo, William D Foulkes, John R Priest, Luis V Syro, Henriett Butz, Michael D Cusimano, and Kalman Kovacs

In this review, the importance of the DICER1 gene in the function of endocrine cells is discussed. There is conclusive evidence that DICER1 mutations play a crucial role in the development, progression, cell proliferation, therapeutic responsiveness and behavior of several endocrine tumors. We review the literature of DICER1 gene mutations in thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, pineal gland, endocrine pancreas, paragangliomas, medullary, adrenocortical, ovarian and testicular tumors. Although significant progress has been made during the last few years, much more work is needed to fully understand the significance of DICER1 mutations.

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Didier Marot, Ivan Bieche, Chantal Aumas, Stéphanie Esselin, Céline Bouquet, Sophie Vacher, Gwendal Lazennec, Michel Perricaudet, Frederique Kuttenn, Rosette Lidereau, and Nicolas de Roux

KiSS1 is a putative metastasis suppressor gene in melanoma and breast cancer-encoding kisspeptins, which are also described as neuroendocrine regulators of the gonadotropic axis. Negative as well as positive regulation of KiSS1 gene expression by estradiol (E2) has been reported in the hypothalamus. Estrogen receptor α (ERα level is recognized as a marker of breast cancer, raising the question of whether expression of KiSS1 and its G-protein-coupled receptor (GPR54) is down- or upregulated by estrogens in breast cancer cells. KiSS1 was found to be expressed in MDA-MB-231, MCF7, and T47D cell lines, but not in ZR75-1, L56Br, and MDA-MB-435 cells. KiSS1 mRNA levels decreased significantly in ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells expressing recombinant ERα. In contrast, tamoxifen (TAM) treatment of ERα-positive MCF7 and T47D cells increased KiSS1 and GPR54 levels. The clinical relevance of this negative regulation of KiSS1 and GPR54 by E2 was then studied in postmenopausal breast cancers. KiSS1 mRNA increased with the grade of the breast tumors. ERα-positive invasive primary tumors expressed sevenfold lower KiSS1 levels than ERα-negative tumors. Among ERα-positive breast tumors from postmenopausal women treated with TAM, high KiSS1 combined with high GPR54 mRNA tumoral levels was unexpectedly associated with shorter relapse-free survival (RFS) relative to tumors expressing low tumoral mRNA levels of both genes. The contradictory observation of putative metastasis inhibitor role of kisspeptins and RFS to TAM treatment suggests that evaluation of KiSS1 and its receptor tumoral mRNA levels could be new interesting markers of the tumoral resistance to anti-estrogen treatment.

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Dorota Dworakowska and Ashley B Grossman

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant multisystem disorder characterised by the development of multiple hamartomas in numerous organs. It is caused by mutations of two tumour suppressor genes, TSC1 on chromosome 9q34 and TSC2 on chromosome 16p13.3, which encode for hamartin and tuberin respectively. The interaction between these two proteins, the tuberin–hamartin complex, has been shown to be critical to multiple intracellular signalling pathways, especially those controlling cell growth and proliferation. TSC may affect skin, central nervous system, kidneys, heart, eyes, blood vessels, lung, bone and gastrointestinal tract. Small series and case reports have documented that in tuberous sclerosis patients many endocrine system alterations might occur, affecting the function of the pituitary, parathyroid and other neuroendocrine tissue. There have been scattered reports of the involvement of such tissue in the pathological process of TSC, but no systematic review as to whether this is a true association. We have therefore systematically assessed all available published literature in this area. We conclude that there may be an association with pituitary and parathyroid tumours, and two recent descriptions of Cushing's disease are especially intriguing. However, the evidence seems more firm in the case of islet cell tumours, particularly insulinomas. As these latter may cause changes in mental state that may be confused with the cerebral manifestations of TSC per se, it is particularly important for physicians working with these patients to be aware of the putative and indeed likely association.

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Sara Molatore, Andrea Kügler, Martin Irmler, Tobias Wiedemann, Frauke Neff, Annette Feuchtinger, Johannes Beckers, Mercedes Robledo, Federico Roncaroli, and Natalia S Pellegata

Rats affected by the MENX syndrome spontaneously develop multiple neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) including adrenal, pituitary and thyroid gland neoplasms. MENX was initially reported to be inherited as a recessive trait and affected rats were found to be homozygous for the predisposing Cdkn1b mutation encoding p27. We here report that heterozygous MENX-mutant rats (p27+/mut) develop the same spectrum of NETs seen in the homozygous (p27mut/mut) animals but with slower progression. Consequently, p27+/mut rats have a significantly shorter lifespan compared with their wild-type (p27+/+) littermates. In the tumors of p27+/mut rats, the wild-type Cdkn1b allele is neither lost nor silenced, implying that p27 is haploinsufficient for tumor suppression in this model. Transcriptome profiling of rat adrenal (pheochromocytoma) and pituitary tumors having different p27 dosages revealed a tissue-specific, dose-dependent effect of p27 on gene expression. In p27+/mut rats, thyroid neoplasms progress to invasive and metastatic medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTCs) accompanied by increased calcitonin levels, as in humans. Comparison of expression signatures of late-stage vs early-stage MTCs from p27+/mut rats identified genes potentially involved in tumor aggressiveness. The expression of a subset of these genes was evaluated in human MTCs and found to be associated with aggressive RET-M918T-positive tumors. Altogether, p27 haploinsufficiency in MENX rats uncovered a novel, representative model of invasive and metastatic MTC exploitable for translational studies of this often aggressive and incurable cancer.

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Maria P Yavropoulou, Marina Tsoli, Konstantinos Barkas, Gregory Kaltsas, and Ashley Grossman

Non-functioning pituitary adenomas, recently alternatively termed pituitary neuroendocrine tumours (NFpitNETs), are mostly benign neoplasms that are not associated with a hormonal hypersecretory syndrome. The clinical spectrum of NFpitNETs varies from completely asymptomatic to the development of panhypopituitarism and manifestations attributed to mass effects on nearby structures. NFpitNETs follow generally an indolent course, but in 5–10% of cases they exhibit more aggressive behaviour, characterised by rapid growth, invasiveness and early recurrence. The initial size of the adenoma, the presence of symptoms and the histological subtype are related to the natural course of NFpitNETs. Active surveillance is usually the strategy of choice in the case of an asymptomatic NFpitNET, while surgical resection is recommended in case of visual and/or neurological abnormalities or rapid tumour growth. Based on previous and emerging data, approximately 50% of patients show tumour growth, while 20% of patients with NF-macroadenomas on active surveillance may require further intervention during a follow-up period of 7 years. Adjuvant radiotherapy is usually considered for large residual tumours or recurrent and/or aggressive adenomas, but there is evidence that medical therapy, especially with cabergoline, can occasionally be beneficial, whereas newer molecular agents are under investigation. Thus, while highly effective medical therapy is awaited, a move towards a more conservative approach seems appropriate, at least until we have better molecular markers of progressiveness.

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Cuiqi Zhou, Yunguang Tong, Kolja Wawrowsky, Serguei Bannykh, Ines Donangelo, and Shlomo Melmed

As human pituitary tumor transforming gene (hPTTG1) is upregulated in endocrine tumors, we studied regulatory mechanisms for hPTTG1 expression. We identified Oct-1-binding motifs in the hPTTG1 promoter region and show Oct-1-specific binding to the hPTTG1 promoter using chromatin immunoprecipitation. We overexpressed Oct-1 and observed ∼2.5-fold activation of hPTTG1 promoter luciferase constructs (−2642/−1 and −1717/−1). Transcriptional activation was abrogated by co-transfection of an inactive Oct-1 form lacking the POU domain or by utilizing mutated hPTTG1 promoters or mutants devoid of two Oct-1-binding motifs (−1717/−1mut, −637/−1 or −433/−1). Using biotin–streptavidin pull-down assays, we confirmed Oct-1 binding to the two octamer motifs in the hPTTG1 promoter (−1669/−1631 and −1401/−1361). Endogenous hPTTG1 mRNA and protein increased up to approximately fourfold in Oct-1 transfectants, as measured by real-time PCR and western blot. In contrast, siRNA-mediated suppression of endogenous Oct-1 attenuated both the hPTTG1 mRNA and protein levels. Using confocal immunofluorescence imaging, Oct-1 and hPTTG1 were concordantly upregulated in pituitary (57 and 62%, n=79, P<0.01) and breast tumor specimens (57 and 42%, n=77, P<0.05) respectively. The results show that Oct-1 transactivates hPTTG1, and both proteins are concordantly overexpressed in endocrine tumors, thus offering a mechanism for endocrine tumor hPTTG1 abundance.

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Rami Alrezk, Fady Hannah-Shmouni, and Constantine A Stratakis

Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) refers to a group of autosomal dominant disorders with generally high penetrance that lead to the development of a wide spectrum of endocrine and non-endocrine manifestations. The most frequent among these conditions is MEN type 1 (MEN1), which is caused by germline heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the tumor suppressor gene MEN1. MEN1 is characterized by primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and functional or nonfunctional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and pituitary adenomas. Approximately 10% of patients with familial or sporadic MEN1-like phenotype do not have MEN1 mutations or deletions. A novel MEN syndrome was discovered, initially in rats (MENX), and later in humans (MEN4), which is caused by germline mutations in the putative tumor suppressor CDKN1B. The most common phenotype of the 19 established cases of MEN4 that have been described to date is PHPT followed by pituitary adenomas. Recently, somatic or germline mutations in CDKN1B were also identified in patients with sporadic PHPT, small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors, lymphoma and breast cancer, demonstrating a novel role for CDKN1B as a tumor susceptibility gene for other neoplasms. In this review, we report on the genetic characterization and clinical features of MEN4.

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H K Gleeson and S M Shalet

Survival rates are improving following cancer therapy for childhood brain tumours. There is therefore a growing cohort of survivors at risk of late effects of cancer therapy. Endocrine problems are very common in these patients. The recognition and prompt management of these are essential to prevent further morbidity and impairment of quality of life.

Cranial radiation can damage hypothalamic–pituitary function, most frequently affecting GH status; however, higher radiation doses may cause more widespread hypothalamic–pituitary damage. Early puberty secondary to cranial irradiation is now being managed with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues to improve final height. Prompt diagnosis and management of GH deficiency may improve final height outcome; continued GH therapy beyond final height aids the achievement of adult body composition (lean body mass and bone mass) and GH therapy in adulthood improves quality of life. Both cranial irradiation alone and with spinal irradiation can result in radiation damage to the thyroid resulting in hypothyroidism and thyroid nodules, a high proportion of which are malignant. Gonadal damage secondary to spinal irradiation and adjuvant chemotherapy may have long-term consequences including infertility.