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A Perren, S Schmid, T Locher, P Saremaslani, C Bonvin, P U Heitz, and P Komminoth

The tumorigenesis of sporadic endocrine tumors is still not fully understood. Activating point mutations of the serine/threonine kinase gene BRAF located on 7q34 are found in a wide range of malignancies, with the highest frequency (66%) occurring in malignant melanomas. Melanomas are tumors of neural-crest-derived cells as are medullary thyroid carcinomas, pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. BRAF has not been examined in endocrine tumors of the diffuse neuroendocrine system or of neural-crest-derived cells.

We examined 130 endocrine tumors of the pancreas, parathyroid gland, adrenal medulla, paraganglia, lung and gastrointestinal tract as well as follicular and c-cell-derived thyroid tumors. We found a high rate of V559E mutations in papillary thyroid carcinomas (47%), one V599E mutation in a well-differentiated gastric endocrine carcinoma (malignant carcinoid), but no activating BRAF mutations in all other endocrine tumors examined. These results point towards different pathways in tumorigenesis of endocrine tumors of various localizations and only rare involvement of the MAP kinase (MAPK) pathway in a subset of malignant neuroendocrine tumors.

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Yulong Li and William F Simonds

Familial syndromes of hyperparathyroidism, including multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A), and the hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor (HPT-JT), comprise 2–5% of primary hyperparathyroidism cases. Familial syndromes of hyperparathyroidism are also associated with a range of endocrine and nonendocrine tumors, including potential malignancies. Complications of the associated neoplasms are the major causes of morbidities and mortalities in these familial syndromes, e.g., parathyroid carcinoma in HPT-JT syndrome; thymic, bronchial, and enteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in MEN1; and medullary thyroid cancer and pheochromocytoma in MEN2A. Because of the different underlying mechanisms of neoplasia, these familial tumors may have different characteristics compared with their sporadic counterparts. Large-scale clinical trials are frequently lacking due to the rarity of these diseases. With technological advances and the development of new medications, the natural history, diagnosis, and management of these syndromes are also evolving. In this article, we summarize the recent knowledge on endocrine neoplasms in three familial hyperparathyroidism syndromes, with an emphasis on disease characteristics, molecular pathogenesis, recent developments in biochemical and radiological evaluation, and expert opinions on surgical and medical therapies. Because these familial hyperparathyroidism syndromes are associated with a wide variety of tumors in different organs, this review is focused on those endocrine neoplasms with malignant potential.

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K W Colston

INTRODUCTION Over the past two decades much has been learned about the metabolism and actions of vitamin D. Considered to be a dietary requirement essential for the prevention of rickets in the early years of this century, it is now clear that vitamin D is normally synthesized in adequate amounts in the skin by the actions of ultraviolet light. An exciting new area of research in the vitamin D field has opened up with the discovery of new target tissues, novel mechanisms of action and the synthesis of new analogues of vitamin D with tissue-selective actions and potential as therapeutic agents in a wide variety of clinical situations. This development has arisen from the realization that, in addition to its classical role as a calciotrophic hormone, the physiologically active metabolite of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), has a wide range of biological effects in haemopoietic and
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D M Peehl and D Feldman

Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in many countries. Premalignant lesions and invasive cancer occur more frequently in the prostate than in any organ other than the skin. Yet, the incidence of clinically detected prostate cancer is much lower than the histopathological incidence. The slow growth of prostate cancer and the low incidence of clinically manifest disease in some geographical locations or racial/ethnic groups suggest that prostate cancer can be controlled, perhaps by dietary factors. Vitamin D and retinoids have emerged as leading candidates both to prevent and to treat prostate cancer. Many of the activities of these compounds, established from epidemiological studies, research with cell culture and animal models, and clinical trials, are consistent with tumor suppressor effects. However, retinoids may have additional tumor enhancer properties that balance or negate anti-cancer activity. This perhaps explains the overall lack of protective effects of vitamin A compounds against prostate cancer found in epidemiological studies, and the minimal efficacy of retinoids in clinical trials to treat prostate cancer. While current efforts focus on developing strategies to use vitamin D compounds to control prostate cancer, the possibility exists that prostate cancer cells may become resistant to tumor suppressor effects of vitamin D. Analyses of experimental model systems show that prostate cancer cells become less sensitive to vitamin D through loss of receptors or signaling molecules that mediate vitamin D's actions, or through changes in metabolic enzymes that synthesize or degrade vitamin D compounds. The potential promise of exploiting vitamin D to control prostate cancer is tempered by the possibility that prostate cancer, perhaps even at early stages, may develop mechanisms to escape tumor suppressor activities of vitamin D and/or retinoids.

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Srilatha Swami, Aruna V Krishnan, Jasmaine Williams, Abhishek Aggarwal, Megan A Albertelli, Ronald L Horst, Brian J Feldman, and David Feldman

Abstract

Obesity is an established risk factor for postmenopausal breast cancer (BCa), insulin resistance, and vitamin D deficiency, and all contribute to increased synthesis of mammary estrogens, the drivers of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) BCa growth. As both dietary vitamin D and calcitriol treatments inhibit breast estrogen synthesis and signaling, we hypothesized that vitamin D would be especially beneficial in mitigating the adverse effects of obesity on ER+BCa. To assess whether obesity exerted adverse effects on BCa growth and whether vitamin D compounds could reduce these unfavorable effects, we employed a diet-induced obesity (DIO) model in ovariectomized C57BL/6 mice. Breast tumor cells originally from syngeneic Mmtv-Wnt1 transgenic mice were then implanted into the mammary fat pads of lean and obese mice. DIO accelerated the initiation and progression of the mammary tumors. Treatments with either calcitriol or dietary vitamin D reduced the adverse effects of obesity causing a delay in tumor appearance and inhibiting continued tumor growth. Beneficial actions of treatments with vitamin D or calcitriol on BCa and surrounding adipose tissue included repressed Esr1, aromatase, and Cox2 expression; decreased tumor-derived estrogen and PGE2; reduced expression of leptin receptors; and increased adiponectin receptors. We demonstrate that vitamin D treatments decreased insulin resistance, reduced leptin, and increased adiponectin signaling and also regulated the LKB1/AMPK pathway contributing to an overall decrease in local estrogen synthesis in the obese mice. We conclude that calcitriol and dietary vitamin D, acting by multiple interrelated pathways, mitigate obesity-enhanced BCa growth in a postmenopausal setting.

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N Garcia de la Torre, J A H Wass, and H E Turner

In recent decades, primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) has changed its clinical presentation from a disease with bone and renal involvement to a frequently asymptomatic disorder detected on routine biochemistry. Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether patients with untreated mild asymptomatic hyperparathyroidism are at risk for other complications such as increased morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. There are limited data on the incidence of cardiovascular abnormalities in mild pHPT. However, pHPT has been associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), valvular and myocardial calcifications, impaired vascular reactivity, alterations in cardiac conduction, impaired glucose metabolism, dyslipidaemia, and alterations in body composition. The nature of some of these associations is in question, because cure of pHPT does not lead to improvement of the cardiovascular disorder e.g. hypertension. In contrast, currently available data suggest that LVH, impaired glucose metabolism and dyslipidaemia may improve after surgery and that successful parathyroidectomy could decrease the excess mortality in patients with pHPT due to cardiovascular disease.

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María Rodríguez-Sanz, Daniel Prieto-Alhambra, Sonia Servitja, Natalia Garcia-Giralt, Laia Garrigos, Jaime Rodriguez-Morera, Joan Albanell, Maria Martínez-García, Iria González, Adolfo Diez-Perez, Ignasi Tusquets, and Xavier Nogués

Abstract

The aim of the study was to evaluate the progression of bone mineral density (BMD) during 3 years of aromatase inhibitors (AI) therapy in actual practice conditions. This prospective, clinical cohort study of Barcelona–Aromatase induced Bone Loss in Early breast cancer (B-ABLE) assessed BMD changes during 3 years of AI treatment in women with breast cancer. Patients with osteoporosis (T score < −2.5 or T score ≤ −2.0) and a major risk factor and/or prevalent fragility fractures were treated with oral bisphosphonates (BPs). Of 685 women recruited, 179 (26.1%) received BP treatment. By the third year of AI therapy, this group exhibited increased BMD in the lumbar spine (LS; 2.59%) and femoral neck (FN; 2.50%), although the increase was significant only within the first year (LS: 1.99% and FN: 2.04%). Despite BP therapy, however, approximately 15% of these patients lost more than 3% of their baseline bone mass. At 3 years, patients without BP experienced BMD decreases in the LS (−3.10%) and FN (−2.79%). In this group, BMD changes occurred during the first (LS: −1.33% and FN: −1.25%), second (LS: −1.19% and FN: −0.82%), and third (LS: −0.57% and FN: −0.65%) years of AI treatment. Increased BMD (>3%) was observed in just 7.6% and 10.8% of these patients at the LS and FN, respectively. Our data confirm a clinically relevant bone loss associated with AI therapy amongst nonusers of preventative BPs. We further report on the importance of BMD monitoring as well as calcium and 25-hydroxy vitamin D supplementation in these patients.

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Filomena Cetani, Claudio Marcocci, Liborio Torregrossa, and Elena Pardi

Atypical parathyroid adenomas represent a group of intermediate form of parathyroid neoplasms of uncertain malignant potential which show some atypical histological features that represent a challenge for the differential diagnosis with parathyroid carcinomas. They may occur as sporadic or as a part of hereditary syndromes. The molecular signature of these neoplasms is still unknown and the germline CDC73 mutations appears to be the most common anomaly in this setting suggesting that these cases might represent variants of the hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor syndrome. The identification of markers predicting the outcome is of great importance to guide an adequate postoperative monitoring and, the same time, relieve of the anxiety of relatively strict monitoring patients not at risk. This review will summarize the current knowledge of the clinical, biochemical, molecular and histological profile of atypical parathyroid adenomas.

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F Lumachi, M C Marzola, P Zucchetta, A Tregnaghi, D Cecchin, and F Bui

A series of 112 consecutive patients with primary hyperparathyroidism who underwent both high-resolution neck ultrasonography (US) and 99mTc-sestamibi/99mTc-pertechnetate subtraction scintigraphy (SS) prior to successful parathyroidectomy was reviewed. There were 29 (25.9%) men and 83 (74.1%) women, with a median age of 58 years (range 13-78 years). Patients were divided into two groups, according to the preoperative US findings: group A (87 patients, 77.7%) without thyroid diseases, and group B (25 patients, 22.3%) with either multinodular goitre or a solitary nontoxic thyroid nodule. In group B patients partial or total thyroidectomy was also performed, according to the intraoperative findings and frozen-section examination results. Final histopathology showed 99 (88.4%) solitary parathyroid (PT) adenomas and 3 (2.7%) PT carcinomas, while 10 (8.9%) patients had a multiglandular disease. The sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) were (group A vs group B) 79.8% vs 70.8% (P=0.25) and 95.7% vs 94.4% (P=0.58) for US, and 83.3% vs 87.0% (P=0.47) and 95.9% vs 90.9% (P=0.32) for SS respectively. Better but similar (P=not significant) results were obtained in patients with solitary PT tumours: 81.5% vs 77.8% (US) and 85.0 vs 94.1% (SS) sensitivity; 97.1% vs 93.3% (US) and 95.8% vs 88.9% (SS) PPV. Overall, the combination of US and SS was 92.9% sensitive (group A=93.1%, group B=92.0%; P=0.55), and the PPV reached 100% in each group. In conclusion, in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism the results of both US and SS are independent of coexistent thyroid disease, especially in patients with solitary PT tumours.

Free access

S Corbetta, V Vaira, V Guarnieri, A Scillitani, C Eller-Vainicher, S Ferrero, L Vicentini, I Chiodini, M Bisceglia, P Beck-Peccoz, S Bosari, and A Spada

Parathyroid carcinoma (PaC) is a rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism. Though the loss of the oncosuppressor CDC73/HRPT2 gene product, parafibromin, has been involved in the hyperparathyroidism–jaw tumor syndrome and in a consistent set of sporadic PaCs, parathyroid carcinogenesis remains obscure. MicroRNAs are a new class of small, non-coding RNAs implicated in development of cancer, since their deregulation can induce aberrant expression of several target genes. The aim of the present study was to identify differentially expressed microRNAs in parathyroid cancers compared with normal tissues. We performed a TaqMan low-density array profiling of four parathyroid cancers harboring CDC73 inactivating mutations and negative for parafibromin immunostaining. Their microRNA profiling was compared with that of two normal parathyroid biopsies. Out of 362 human microRNAs assayed, 279 (77%) were successfully amplified. Fourteen and three microRNAs were significantly down- and over-expressed in parathyroid cancers respectively. Of these, miR-296 and miR-139 were down-regulated, and miR-503 and miR-222 were over-expressed with a null false discovery rate. Carcinomas could be discriminated from parathyroid adenomas by a computed score based on the expression levels of miR-296, miR-222, and miR-503 as miR-139 was similarly down-regulated in both cancers and adenomas. Finally, miR-296 and miR-222 levels negatively correlated with mRNA levels of the hepatocyte growth factor receptor-regulated tyrosine kinase substrate and p27/kip1 levels respectively. These results suggest the existence of an altered microRNA expression pattern in PaCs together with a potential role of miR-296 as novel oncosuppressor gene in these neoplasia.