Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is the hypothalamic factor that mediates reproductive competence. Intermittent GnRH secretion from the hypothalamus acts upon its receptor in the anterior pituitary to regulate the production and release of the gonadotropins, LH and FSH. LH and FSH then stimulate sex steroid hormone synthesis and gametogenesis in the gonads to ensure reproductive competence. The pituitary requires pulsatile stimulation by GnRH to synthesize and release the gonadotropins LH and FSH. Clinically, native GnRH is used in a pump delivery system to create an episodic delivery pattern to restore hormonal defects in patients with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Agonists of GnRH are delivered in a continuous mode to turn off reproductive function by inhibiting gonadotropin production, thus lowering sex steroid production, resulting in medical castration. They have been used in endocrine disorders such as precocious puberty, endometriosis and leiomyomata, but are also studied extensively in hormone-dependent malignancies. The detection of GnRH and its receptor in other tissues, including the breast, ovary, endometrium, placenta and prostate suggested that GnRH agonists and antagonists may also have direct actions at peripheral targets. This paper reviews the current data concerning differential control of GnRH and GnRH receptor expression and signaling in the hypothalamic–pituitary axis and extrapituitary tissues. Using these data as a backdrop, we then review the literature about the action of GnRH in cancer cells, the utility of GnRH analogs in various malignancies and then update the research in novel therapies targeted to the GnRH receptor in cancer cells to promote anti-proliferative effects and control of tumor burden.
G S Harrison, M E Wierman, T M Nett, and L M Glode
Maria Theresa E Montales, Stepan B Melnyk, Shi J Liu, Frank A Simmen, Y Lucy Liu, and Rosalia C M Simmen
The emerging links between breast cancer and metabolic dysfunctions brought forth by the obesity pandemic predict a disproportionate early disease onset in successive generations. Moreover, sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents may be influenced by the patient’s metabolic status that affects the disease outcome. Maternal metabolic stress as a determinant of drug response in progeny is not well defined. Here, we evaluated mammary tumor response to doxorubicin in female mouse mammary tumor virus–Wnt1 transgenic offspring exposed to a metabolically compromised environment imposed by maternal high-fat diet. Control progeny were from dams consuming diets with regular fat content. Maternal high-fat diet exposure increased tumor incidence and reduced tumor latency but did not affect tumor volume response to doxorubicin, compared with control diet exposure. However, doxorubicin-treated tumors from high-fat-diet-exposed offspring demonstrated higher proliferation status (Ki-67), mammary stem cell-associated gene expression (Notch1 , Aldh1) and basal stem cell-like (CD29hiCD24+) epithelial subpopulation frequencies, than tumors from control diet progeny. Notably, all epithelial subpopulations (CD29hiCD24+, CD29loCD24+, CD29hiCD24+Thy1+) in tumors from high-fat-diet-exposed offspring were refractory to doxorubicin. Further, sera from high-fat-diet-exposed offspring promoted sphere formation of mouse mammary tumor epithelial cells and of human MCF7 cells. Untargeted metabolomics analyses identified higher levels of kynurenine and 2-hydroxyglutarate in plasma of high-fat diet than control diet offspring. Kynurenine/doxorubicin co-treatment of MCF7 cells enhanced the ability to form mammosphere and decreased apoptosis, relative to doxorubicin-only-treated cells. Maternal metabolic dysfunctions during pregnancy and lactation may be targeted to reduce breast cancer risk and improve early drug response in progeny, and may inform clinical management of disease.
Frauke Döll, Josef Pfeilschifter, and Andrea Huwiler
Sphingosine kinases (SK) catalyze the formation of sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) which plays a crucial role in cell growth and survival. Here, we show that prolactin (PRL) biphasically activates the SK-1, but not the SK-2 subtype, in the breast adenocarcinoma cell-line MCF7. A first peak occurs after minutes of stimulation and is followed by a second delayed activation after hours of stimulation. A similar biphasic effect on SK-1 activity is seen for 17β-estradiol (E2). The delayed activation of SK-1 derives from an upregulated mRNA and protein expression and is due to increased SK-1 promoter activity and mechanistically involves STAT5 activation as well as protein kinase C and the classical mitogen-activated protein kinases. Furthermore, glucocorticoids also block both hormone-induced SK-1 expression and activity. Functionally, long-term stimulation of MCF7 cells with PRL or E2 is well known to trigger increased cell proliferation and migration. Both hormone-induced cell responses critically involve SK-1 activation since the depletion of SK-1, but not SK-2, by siRNA transfection abolishes the hormone-induced cell proliferation and migration. In summary, our data show that PRL and E2 cause a pronounced delayed SK-1 activation which is due to increased gene transcription, and critically determines the capability of cells to grow and move. Thus, the SK-1 may represent a novel attractive target for anti-tumor therapy.
Julia Hoefer, Johann Kern, Philipp Ofer, Iris E Eder, Georg Schäfer, Dimo Dietrich, Glen Kristiansen, Stephan Geley, Johannes Rainer, Eberhard Gunsilius, Helmut Klocker, Zoran Culig, and Martin Puhr
Deregulation of cytokine and growth factor signaling due to an altered expression of endogenous regulators is well recognized in prostate cancer (PCa) and other cancers. Suppressor of cytokine signaling 2 (SOCS2) is a key regulator of the GH, IGF, and prolactin signaling pathways that have been implicated in carcinogenesis. In this study, we evaluated the expression patterns and functional significance of SOCS2 in PCa. Protein expression analysis employing tissue microarrays from two independent patient cohorts revealed a significantly enhanced expression in tumor tissue compared with benign tissue as well as association with Gleason score and disease progression. In vitro and in vivo assays uncovered the involvement of SOCS2 in the regulation of cell growth and apoptosis. Functionally, SOCS2 knockdown inhibited PCa cell proliferation and xenograft growth in a CAM assay. Decreased cell growth after SOCS2 downregulation was associated with cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis. In addition, we proved that SOCS2 expression is significantly elevated upon androgenic stimulation in androgen receptor (AR)-positive cell lines, providing a possible mechanistic explanation for high SOCS2 levels in PCa tissue. Consequently, SOCS2 expression correlated with AR expression in the malignant tissue of patients. On the whole, our study linked increased SOCS2 expression in PCa with a pro-proliferative role in vitro and in vivo.
Sarah A Dabydeen and Priscilla A Furth
The majority of human breast cancers are estrogen receptor-positive (ER+), but this has proven challenging to model in genetically engineered mice. This review summarizes information on 21 mouse models that develop ER+ mammary cancer. Where available, information on cancer pathology and gene expression profiles is referenced to assist in understanding which histological subtype of ER+ human cancer each model might represent. ESR1, CCDN1, prolactin, TGFα, AIB1, ESPL1, and WNT1 overexpression, PIK3CA gain of function, as well as loss of P53 (Trp53) or STAT1 are associated with ER+ mammary cancer. Treatment with the PPARγ agonist efatutazone in a mouse with Brca1 and p53 deficiency and 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene exposure in combination with an activated myristoylated form of AKT1 also induce ER+ mammary cancer. A spontaneous mutant in nude mice that develops metastatic ER+ mammary cancer is included. Age of cancer development ranges from 3 to 26 months and the percentage of cancers that are ER+ vary from 21 to 100%. Not all models are characterized as to their estrogen dependency and/or response to anti-hormonal therapy. Strain backgrounds include C57Bl/6, FVB, BALB/c, 129S6/SvEv, CB6F1, and NIH nude. Most models have only been studied on one strain background. In summary, while a range of models are available for studies of pathogenesis and therapy of ER+ breast cancers, many could benefit from further characterization, and opportunity for development of new models remains.
Päivi Järvensivu, Taija Heinosalo, Janne Hakkarainen, Pauliina Kronqvist, Niina Saarinen, and Matti Poutanen
Hydroxysteroid (17-beta) dehydrogenase type 1 (HSD17B1) converts low-active estrogen estrone to highly active estradiol. Estradiol is necessary for normal postpubertal mammary gland development; however, elevated estradiol levels increase mammary tumorigenesis. To investigate the significance of the human HSD17B1 enzyme in the mammary gland, transgenic mice universally overexpressing human HSD17B1 were used (HSD17B1TG mice). Mammary glands obtained from HSD17B1TG females at different ages were investigated for morphology and histology, and HSD17B1 activity and estrogen receptor activation in mammary gland tissue were assessed. To study the significance of HSD17B1 enzyme expression locally in mammary gland tissue, HSD17B1-expressing mammary epithelium was transplanted into cleared mammary fat pads of wild-type females, and the effects on mammary gland estradiol production, epithelial cells and the myoepithelium were investigated. HSD17B1TG females showed increased estrone to estradiol conversion and estrogen-response element-driven estrogen receptor signaling in mammary gland tissue, and they showed extensive lobuloalveolar development that was further enhanced by age along with an increase in serum prolactin concentrations. At old age, HSD17B1TG females developed mammary cancers. Mammary-restricted HSD17B1 expression induced lesions at the sites of ducts and alveoli, accompanied by peri- and intraductal inflammation and disruption of the myoepithelial cell layer. The lesions were shown to be estrogen dependent, as treatment with an antiestrogen, ICI 182,780, starting when lesions were already established reversed the phenotype. These data elucidate the ability of human HSD17B1 to enhance estrogen action in the mammary gland in vivo and indicate that HSD17B1 is a factor inducing phenotypic alterations associated with mammary tumorigenesis.
Gy Liszka, I Számel, I Pete, Á Petrányi, N Udvarhelyi, and B Budai
The mammographic appearance of the female breast is influenced by physiological changes related to normal ageing (menopause), endocrine dysfunction, or the combined effects of these factors. During the period from 1 October 1995 to 30 November 1996, mammographic screening was performed on 2356 females from a Budapest district and multiple benign breast lesions (MBBL) were diagnosed in 211 (8.94%) subjects. The hormonal background of this lesion was explored by measuring serum sex hormone levels (oestradiol (E2), progesterone, testosterone, prolactin, FSH and LH) on 40 subjects randomly selected from both Group A (women with involutional changes only) and Group B (patients with MBBL). Serum E2 levels were considerably, but not statistically significantly higher in patients with MBBL (102.2±40.2 vs 50.8±18.7 pmol/l), whereas the elevations of serum progesterone (2.29±0.4 vs 0.901±0.5 nmol/l, P=0.0325) and LH (64.3±9.4 vs 48.9±13.9 IU/l, P=0.0194) levels were statistically significant.
In patients with MBBL, parallel histological studies revealed persistent lobules with cell atypia. Consequently, MBBL with distinct radiomorphological features may result from endocrine dysfunction associated with the postmenopausal period. In such cases, cell atypia is more commonly diagnosed by histology. Accordingly, MBBL can be considered as a precancerous lesion. The changes in hormone levels observed suggest that endocrine dysfunction is accompanied by a slight impairment of negative feedback regulation, and regular clinical and laboratory screening of the risk population is recommended.
This study was carried out under the auspices of the Secondary Prevention Subcomponent (1.13) of the World Bank HSM Project (3597-HU).
T J G Chambers, A Giles, G Brabant, and J R E Davis
Wnt signalling is activated in both pituitary organogenesis and its mature function. Wnt ligands and Wnt signalling pathways are critical for the regulation of the formation of the pituitary. In the mature pituitary, Wnt signalling pathways control cell activity and may stimulate cell proliferation in both physiological and pathological processes. This review compares Wnt signalling pathways active in the developing and mature pituitary and explores how this gives us further insight into the development of pituitary adenomas.
Iain R Thompson, Annisa N Chand, Peter J King, Olaf Ansorge, Niki Karavitaki, Ceri Alexander Jones, Dolkun Rahmutula, David G Gardner, Vladimir Zivkovic, Caroline P Wheeler-Jones, Imelda M McGonnell, Márta Korbonits, Richard A Anderson, John A H Wass, Alan S McNeilly, and Robert C Fowkes
C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP/Nppc) is expressed at high levels in the anterior pituitary of rats and mice and activates guanylyl cyclase B receptors (GC-B/Npr2) to regulate hormone secretion. Mutations in NPR2/Npr2 can cause achondroplasia, GH deficiency, and female infertility, yet the normal expression profile within the anterior pituitary remains to be established in humans. The current study examined the expression profile and transcriptional regulation of NPR2 and GC-B protein in normal human fetal pituitaries, normal adult pituitaries, and human pituitary adenomas using RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. Transcriptional regulation of human NPR2 promoter constructs was characterized in anterior pituitary cell lines of gonadotroph, somatolactotroph, and corticotroph origin. NPR2 was detected in all human fetal and adult pituitary samples regardless of age or sex, as well as in all adenoma samples examined regardless of tumor origin. GC-B immunoreactivity was variable in normal pituitary, gonadotrophinomas, and somatotrophinomas. Maximal transcriptional regulation of the NPR2 promoter mapped to a region within −214 bp upstream of the start site in all anterior pituitary cell lines examined. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed that this region contains Sp1/Sp3 response elements. These data are the first to show NPR2 expression in normal human fetal and adult pituitaries and adenomatous pituitary tissue and suggest a role for these receptors in both pituitary development and oncogenesis, introducing a new target to manipulate these processes in pituitary adenomas.
Kari Hemminki, Asta Försti, and Jianguang Ji
Reliable data on familial risks are important for clinical counseling and cancer genetics. We wanted to study incidence trends and familial risks for pituitary adenomas and associated tumors through parental and sibling probands, using the nation-wide Swedish Family-Cancer Database on 10.5 million individuals, containing families with parents and offspring. Cancer data were retrieved from the Swedish Cancer Registry from years 1958 to 2002, including 3239 pituitary tumor patients. Familial risk for offspring was defined through standardized incidence ratio (SIR), adjusted for many variables. The incidence of pituitary adenoma has increased moderately from 1958 to the 1990s and declined thereafter. There were only three offspring–parent pairs with a concordant pituitary tumor, the SIR was not significant. Parental skin cancer (SIR 1.60) and leukemia (1.90, chronic lymphatic leukemia 2.59) were associated with offspring pituitary adenoma diagnosed at any age up to 70 years. There was a strong association of pituitary adenomas with nervous system hemangiopericytomas, SIR 182. The only significant association among siblings was between pituitary tumors and breast cancer (1.46). The risk of pituitary adenoma was marginally increased in individuals whose siblings were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The results suggest an association of pituitary adenomas with nervous system hemangiopericytomas and breast and colorectal cancers, in addition to some other tumor types. Whether these associations can be explained by the recently identified pituitary adenoma predisposing gene, AIP, remains to be established.