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Free access

Sunmi Park, Mark C Willingham, Jun Qi, and Sheue-Yann Cheng

Compelling epidemiological evidence shows a strong positive correlation of obesity with thyroid cancer. In vivo studies have provided molecular evidence that high-fat-diet-induced obesity promotes thyroid cancer progression by aberrantly activating leptin-JAK2-STAT3 signaling in a mouse model of thyroid cancer (Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice). The Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mouse expresses a dominantly negative thyroid hormone receptor β (denoted as PV) and a deletion of one single allele of the Pten gene. The Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mouse spontaneously develops follicular thyroid cancer, which allows its use as a preclinical mouse model to test potential therapeutics. We recently showed that inhibition of STAT3 activity by a specific inhibitor markedly delays thyroid cancer progression in high-fat-diet-induced obese Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice (HFD-Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice). Further, metformin, a widely used antidiabetic drug, blocks invasion and metastasis, but not thyroid tumor growth in HFD-Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ mice. To improve efficacy in reducing thyroid tumor growth, we treated HFD-Thrb PV/PV Pten +/ with JQ1, a potent inhibitor of the activity of bromodomain and extraterminal domain (BET) and with metformin. We found that the combined treatment synergistically suppressed thyroid tumor growth by attenuating STAT3 and ERK signaling, resulting in decreased anti-apoptotic key regulators such as Mcl-1, Bcl-2 and survivin and increased pro-apoptotic regulators such as Bim, BAD and cleave caspase 3. Furthermore, combined treatment of JQ1 and metformin reduced cMyc protein levels to suppress vascular invasion, anaplasia and lung metastasis. These findings indicate that combined treatment is more effective than metformin alone and suggest a novel treatment modality for obesity-activated thyroid cancer.

Free access

Kensey Bergdorf, Donna C Ferguson, Mitra Mehrad, Kim Ely, Thomas Stricker, and Vivian L Weiss

The prevalence of thyroid carcinoma is increasing and represents the most common endocrine malignancy, with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) being the most frequent subtype. The genetic alterations identified in PTCs fail to distinguish tumors with different clinical behaviors, such as extra-thyroidal extension and lymph node metastasis. We hypothesize that the immune microenvironment may play a critical role in tumor invasion and metastasis. Computational immunogenomic analysis was performed on 568 PTC samples in The Cancer Genome Atlas using CIBERSORT, TIMER and TIDE deconvolution analytic tools for characterizing immune cell composition. Immune cell infiltrates were correlated with histologic type, mutational type, tumor pathologic T stage and lymph node N stage. Dendritic cells (DCs) are highly associated with more locally advanced tumor T stage (T3/T4, odds ratio (OR) = 2.6, CI = 1.4–4.5, P = 5.4 × 10−4). Increased dendritic cells (OR = 3.4, CI = 1.9–6.3, P = 5.5 × 10−5) and neutrophils (OR = 10.5, CI = 2.7–44, P = 8.7 × 10−4) significantly correlate with lymph node metastasis. In addition, dendritic cells positively correlate with tall cell morphology (OR = 4.5, CI = 1.6–13, P = 4.9 × 10−3) and neutrophils negatively correlate with follicular morphology (OR = 1.3 × 10−3, CI = 5.3 × 10−5–0.031, P = 4.1 × 10−5). TIDE analysis indicates an immune-exclusive phenotype that may be mediated by increased galectin-3 found in PTCs. Thus, characterization of the PTC immune microenvironment using three computational platforms shows that specific immune cells correlate with mutational type, histologic type, local tumor extent and lymph node metastasis. Immunologic evaluation of PTCs may provide a better indication of biologic behavior, resulting in the improved diagnosis and treatment of thyroid cancer.

Free access

Rengyun Liu and Mingzhao Xing

The 2013 discovery of Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations chr5, 1,295,228 C>T (C228T) and 1,295,250 C>T (C250T) in thyroid cancer represents an important event in the thyroid cancer field and much progress has occurred since then. This article provides a comprehensive review of this exciting new thyroid cancer field. The oncogenic role of TERT promoter mutations involves their creation of consensus binding sites for E-twenty-six transcriptional factors. TERT C228T is far more common than TERT C250T and their collective prevalence is, on average, 0, 11.3, 17.1, 43.2 and 40.1% in benign thyroid tumors, papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), follicular thyroid cancer, poorly differentiated thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer, respectively, displaying an association with aggressive types of thyroid cancer. TERT promoter mutations are associated with aggressive thyroid tumor characteristics, tumor recurrence and patient mortality as well as BRAF V600E mutation. Coexisting BRAF V600E and TERT promoter mutations have a robust synergistic impact on the aggressiveness of PTC, including a sharply increased tumor recurrence and patient mortality, while either mutation alone has a modest impact. Thus, TERT with promoter mutations represents a prominent new oncogene in thyroid cancer and the mutations are promising new diagnostic and prognostic genetic markers for thyroid cancer, which, in combination with BRAF V600E mutation or other genetic markers (e.g. RAS mutations), are proving to be clinically useful for the management of thyroid cancer. Future studies will specifically define such clinical utilities, elucidate the biological mechanisms and explore the potential as therapeutic targets of TERT promoter mutations in thyroid cancer.

Free access

S Humez, M Monet, G Legrand, G Lepage, P Delcourt, and N Prevarskaya

Neuroendocrine differentiation (NED) has been implicated in prostate cancer progression and hormone-therapy failure. Neuroendocrine cells are non-proliferating and escape apoptotic cell death, although their origin and the causes of their apoptotic resistance have as yet been poorly elucidated. This study demonstrates a new mechanism involved in controlling NED. We report that epidermal growth factor (5–50 ng/ml) promotes neuroendocrine-like differentiation of androgen-independent DU145 prostate cancer cells. This differentiation is associated with an increase in the expression of Neuron Specific Enolase (NSE) and a reduction in cell proliferation and is blocked by inhibiting tyrosine kinase activity with genistein and with compound 56 (C56). An increase in the cAMP level, using dibutryl cAMP (db-cAMP) (1 mM) and isobutylmethylxanthine (100 μM), does not promote NED by itself, but does increase the effect of EGF on NED. In addition, EGF-induced NED protects cells from apoptosis induced with thapsigargin (1 μM) by reducing the thapsigargin-induced cytosolic calcium overload. In order to describe how EGF-induced NED protects cells against thapigargin-induced calcium overload we investigated the spatiotemporal calcium signalling linked to apoptosis. By using thapsigargin in various conditions on DU145 cells and using micro-fluorimetric calcium measurements, we show that depletion of intracellular calcium store induces apoptosis and that the amplitude and duration of the capacitive calcium entry are two apoptosis-modulating parameters. We show that protection against thapsigargin-induced apoptosis conferred by NED is achieved by reducing the amount and the speed of calcium that can be released from calcium pools, as well as modulating the amplitude of the subsequent calcium entry.

Free access

E L Mazzaferri and N Massoll

The incidence of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) has increased in many places around the world over the past three decades, yet this has been associated with a significant decrease in DTC mortality rates in some countries. While the best 10-year DTC survival rates are about 90%, long-term relapse rates remain high, in the order of 20-40%, depending upon the patient's age and tumor stage at the time of initial treatment. About 80% of patients appear to be rendered disease-free by initial treatment, but the others have persistent tumor, sometimes found decades later. Optimal treatment for tumors that are likely to relapse or cause death is total thyroidectomy and ablation by iodine-131 ((131)I), followed by long-term levothyroxine suppression of thyrotropin (TSH). On the basis of regression modeling of 1510 patients without distant metastases at the time of initial treatment and including surgical and (131)I treatment, the likelihood of death from DTC is increased by several factors, including age >45 years, tumor size >1.0 cm, local tumor invasion or regional lymph-node metastases, follicular histology, and delay of treatment >12 months. Cancer mortality is favorably and independently affected by female sex, total or near-total thyroidectomy, (131)I treatment and levothyroxine suppression of TSH. Treatments with (131)I to ablate thyroid remnants and residual disease are independent prognostic variables favorably influencing distant tumor relapse and cancer death rates. Delay in treatment of persistent disease has a profound impact on outcome. Optimal long-term follow-up using serum thyroglobulin (Tg) measurements and diagnostic whole-body scans (DxWBS) require high concentrations of TSH, which until recently were possible to achieve only by withdrawing levothyroxine treatment, producing symptomatic hypothyroidism. New paradigms, however, provide alternative pathways to prepare patients for (131)I treatment and to optimize follow-up. Patients with undetectable or low Tg concentrations and persistent occult disease can now be identified within the first year after initial treatment by recombinant human (rh)TSH-stimulated serum Tg concentrations greater than 2 microg/l, without performing DxWBS. These new follow-up paradigms promptly identify patients with lung metastases that are not evident on routine imaging, but which respond to (131)I treatment. In addition, rhTSH can be given to prepare patients for (131)I remnant ablation or (131)I treatment for metastases, especially those who are unable to withstand hypothyroidism because of concurrent illness or advanced age, or whose hypothyroid TSH fails to increase.

Free access

L Fugazzola, E Puxeddu, N Avenia, C Romei, V Cirello, A Cavaliere, P Faviana, D Mannavola, S Moretti, S Rossi, M Sculli, V Bottici, P Beck-Peccoz, F Pacini, A Pinchera, F Santeusanio, and R Elisei

Recently, a somatic point mutation of the B-RAF gene (V600E) has been identified as the most common genetic event in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC), with a prevalence variable among different series. Since discordant data on the clinico-pathologic features of B-RAF mutated PTC are present in the literature, the aim of the present co-operative study was to establish the prevalence of this genetic alteration and to perform a genotype–phenotype correlation in a large cohort of patients with PTC. To this purpose, a series of 260 sporadic PTCs with different histological variants were included in the study. The mutational analysis of the B-RAF gene was performed either by RT-PCR followed by single-stranded conformational polymorphism or by PCR and direct sequencing. Statistical analyses were obtained by means of χ2/Fisher’s exact test and t-test. Overall, a heterozygous T > A transversion at nucleotide 1799 (V600E) was found in 99 out of 260 PTCs (38%). According to the histological type of the tumor, the B-RAF V600E mutation was present in 48.3% of cases of classic PTCs (85 out of 176), in 17.6% (nine out of 51) of follicular variants of PTCs, in 21.7% (five out of 23) in other PTC variants and in none of the ten poorly differentiated tumors. B-RAF V600E was significantly associated with the classic variant of PTC (P = 0.0001) and with an older age at diagnosis (P = 0.01). No statistically significant correlation was found among the presence of B-RAF V600E and gender, tumor node metastasis (TNM), multicentricity of the tumor, stage at diagnosis and outcome. In conclusion, the present study reports the prevalence of B-RAF V600E (38%) in the largest series of sporadic PTCs, including 260 cases from three different Italian referring centers. This prevalence is similar to that calculated by pooling together all data previously reported, 39.6% (759 out of 1914 cases), thus indicating that the prevalence of this genetic event lies around 38–40%. Furthermore, B-RAF V600E was confirmed to be associated with the papillary growth pattern, but not with poorer differentiated PTC variants. A significant association of B-RAF mutation was also found with an older age at diagnosis, the mutation being very rare in childhood and adolescent PTCs. Finally, no correlation was found with a poorer prognosis and a worse outcome after a median follow-up of 72 months.

Free access

F Cetani, E Pardi, C Banti, P Collecchi, P Viacava, S Borsari, G Fanelli, A G Naccarato, F Saponaro, P Berti, P Miccoli, A Pinchera, and C Marcocci

Aberrant accumulation of β-catenin has been found in various types of human tumors. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether Wnt/β-catenin signaling is activated in parathyroid carcinomas and adenomas. We studied 154 parathyroid tumors (18 carcinomas (13 with distant metastases), six atypical adenomas, and 130 adenomas). Three normal parathyroid tissues were used as control. Direct sequencing of exon 3 of the CTNNB1 gene showed absence of stabilizing mutations in all the tumors. Immunostaining of β-catenin was performed in all carcinomas and in 66 adenomas (including three atypical). Normal parathyroid showed a homogeneous distinct outer cell membrane staining in the majority of cells and no nuclear staining. A weak cytoplasmic staining was observed in one case. All tumors showed negative nuclear staining. With the exception of one carcinoma, which had a negative membrane staining, all other samples showed a membrane staining which was similar to that of the normal parathyroid. β-Catenin expression was heterogeneous with a range of positive cells between 5 and 80%, independently of tumor type. Our results suggest that the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway is not involved in the development of parathyroid carcinomas and adenomas.

Free access

Xiao-Hua Jiang, Jie-Li Lu, Bin Cui, Yong-Ju Zhao, Wei-qing Wang, Jian-Min Liu, Wen-Qiang Fang, Ya-Nan Cao, Yan Ge, Chang-xian Zhang, Huguette Casse, Xiao-Ying Li, and Guang Ning

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an inherited tumour syndrome characterized by the development of tumours of the parathyroid, anterior pituitary and pancreatic islets, etc. Heterozygous germ line mutations of MEN1 gene are responsible for the onset of MEN1. We investigated the probands and 31 family members from eight unrelated Chinese families associated with MEN1 and identified four novel mutations, namely 373_374ins18, 822delT, 259delT and 1092delC, as well as three previously reported mutations, such as 357_360delCTGT, 427_428delTA and R108X (CGA>TGA) of MEN1 gene. Furthermore, we detected a loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at chromosome 11q in the removed tumours, including gastrinoma, insulinoma and parathyroid adenoma from two probands of MEN1 families. RT-PCR and direct sequencing showed that mutant MEN1 transcripts remained in the MEN1-associated endocrine tumours, whereas normal menin proteins could not be detected in those tumours by either immunohistochemistry or immunoblotting. In conclusion, MEN1 heterozygous mutations are associated with LOH and menin absence, which are present in MEN1-associated endocrine tumours.

Free access

Arthur Varoquaux, Electron Kebebew, Fréderic Sebag, Katherine Wolf, Jean-François Henry, Karel Pacak, and David Taïeb

The vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) is the main nerve of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. Vagal paragangliomas (VPGLs) are a prime example of an endocrine tumor associated with the vagus nerve. This rare, neural crest tumor constitutes the second most common site of hereditary head and neck paragangliomas (HNPGLs), most often in relation to mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit D (SDHD) gene. The treatment paradigm for VPGL has progressively shifted from surgery to abstention or therapeutic radiation with curative-like outcomes. Parathyroid tissue and parathyroid adenoma can also be found in close association with the vagus nerve in intra or paravagal situations. Vagal parathyroid adenoma can be identified with preoperative imaging or suspected intraoperatively by experienced surgeons. Vagal parathyroid adenomas located in the neck or superior mediastinum can be removed via initial cervicotomy, while those located in the aortopulmonary window require a thoracic approach. This review particularly emphasizes the embryology, molecular genetics, and modern imaging of these tumors.

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Brian Harding, Manuel C Lemos, Anita A C Reed, Gerard V Walls, Jeshmi Jeyabalan, Michael R Bowl, Hilda Tateossian, Nicky Sullivan, Tertius Hough, William D Fraser, Olaf Ansorge, Michael T Cheeseman, and Rajesh V Thakker

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized in man by parathyroid, pancreatic, pituitary and adrenal tumours. The MEN1 gene encodes a 610-amino acid protein (menin) which is a tumour suppressor. To investigate the in vivo role of menin, we developed a mouse model, by deleting Men1 exons 1 and 2 and investigated this for MEN1-associated tumours and serum abnormalities. Men1 +/− mice were viable and fertile, and 220 Men1 +/− and 94 Men1 +/+ mice were studied between the ages of 3 and 21 months. Survival in Men1 +/− mice was significantly lower than in Men1 +/+ mice (<68% vs >85%, P<0.01). Men1 +/− mice developed, by 9 months of age, parathyroid hyperplasia, pancreatic tumours which were mostly insulinomas, by 12 months of age, pituitary tumours which were mostly prolactinomas, and by 15 months parathyroid adenomas and adrenal cortical tumours. Loss of heterozygosity and menin expression was demonstrated in the tumours, consistent with a tumour suppressor role for the Men1 gene. Men1 +/− mice with parathyroid neoplasms were hypercalcaemic and hypophosphataemic, with inappropriately normal serum parathyroid hormone concentrations. Pancreatic and pituitary tumours expressed chromogranin A (CgA), somatostatin receptor type 2 and vascular endothelial growth factor-A. Serum CgA concentrations in Men1 +/− mice were not elevated. Adrenocortical tumours, which immunostained for 3-β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, developed in seven Men1 +/− mice, but resulted in hypercorticosteronaemia in one out of the four mice that were investigated. Thus, these Men1 +/− mice are representative of MEN1 in man, and will help in investigating molecular mechanisms and treatments for endocrine tumours.