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Yu-fang Bi, Rui-xin Liu, Lei Ye, Hai Fang, Xiao-ying Li, Wei-qing Wang, Ji Zhang, Kan-Kan Wang, Lei Jiang, Ting-wei Su, Zhong-yuan Chen, and Guang Ning

Although there has been increased knowledge about the molecular biology of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), little is known about thymic carcinoids and even less about those with excessive hormone disorders, such as ectopic ACTH syndrome. This study was designed to gain insights into the molecular networks underlying the tumorigenesis of thymic carcinoids with ACTH secretion. By an approach integrating cDNA microarray and methods of computational biology, we compare gene expression profile between ACTH-producing thymic carcinoids and the normal thymus. In total, there are 63 biological categories increased and 108 decreased in thymic carcinoids. Cell proliferation was stimulated, which may explain the relatively uncontrolled cell growth of the tumor. Dysregulation of the Notch-signaling pathway was likely to be underlying the neuroendocrine features of this type of tumors. Moreover, inhibition of immunity and increased neuropeptide signaling molecules (POMC and its sorting molecule CPE) made the clinical manifestation reasonable and thus validated the array data. In conclusion, thymic carcinoids have a distinct gene expression pattern from the normal thymus, and they are characterized by deregulations of a series of biofunctions, which may be involved in the development of NETs. Hence, this study has provided not only a detailed comprehension of the molecular pathogenesis of thymic carcinoids with ectopic ACTH syndrome, but also a road map to approach thymic NETs at the system level.

Free access

G S Harrison, M E Wierman, T M Nett, and L M Glode

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.

Free access

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.

Free access

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.

Free access

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.

Free access

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.

Free access

Maria Eugenia Sabatino, Juan Pablo Petiti, Liliana del Valle Sosa, Pablo Anibal Pérez, Silvina Gutiérrez, Carolina Leimgruber, Alexandra Latini, Alicia Inés Torres, and Ana Lucía De Paul

Although pituitary adenomas represent 25% of intracranial tumors, they are usually benign, with the mechanisms by which these tumors usually avoid an invasive profile and metastatic growth development still remaining unclear. In this context, cellular senescence might constitute a plausible explanation for the benign nature of pituitary adenomas. In this study, we investigated the emergence of cellular senescence as a growth control mechanism during the progression of estrogen-induced pituitary tumors. The quantification of Ki67-immunopositive cells in the pituitaries of estrogenized male rats after 10, 20, 40, and 60 days revealed that the mitogenic potential rate was not sustained for the whole period analyzed and successively decreased after 10 days of estrogen exposure. In addition, the expression of cellular senescence features, such as the progressive rise in the enzymatic senescence-associated b-galactosidase (SA-b-gal) activity, IL6, IL1b, and TGFb expression, was observed throughout pituitary tumor development. Furthermore, tumoral pituitary cells also displayed nuclear pATM expression, indicating activated DNA damage signaling, with a significant increase in p21 expression also being detected. The associations among DNA damage signaling activation, SA-b-gal expression, and p21 may provide a reliable combination of senescence-associated markers for in vivo pituitary senescence detection. These results suggest a role for this cellular process in the regulation of pituitary cell growth. Thus, cellular senescence should be conceived as a contributing component to the benign nature of pituitary adenomas, thereby influencing the capability of the pituitary gland to avoid unregulated cell proliferation.

Free access

A P Heaney and S Melmed

Pituitary tumors are common monoclonal neoplasms which cause considerable morbidity and mortality. Several molecular events underlying pituitary tumorigenesis have been elucidated in recent years, but no tumor marker has clearly emerged which assists clinical and therapeutic decisions. Activating mutations and loss of inactivating mutations, together with hypothalamic hormones, circulating hormones, growth factors and cytokines cooperatively ensure the inexorable expansion of the initial mutated pituitary cell clone. This review describes new developments in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of pituitary tumors. The availability of molecular probes will allow the early prediction of tumor behavior, identify targets for designing subcellular pituitary tumor therapy and provide novel approaches to pituitary tumor management.

Free access

Luis V Syro, Fabio Rotondo, Leon D Ortiz, and Kalman Kovacs

Temozolomide is an alkylating chemotherapeutic agent used in malignant neuroendocrine neoplasia, melanoma, brain metastases and an essential component of adjuvant therapy in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme and anaplastic astrocytoma. Since 2006, it has been used for the treatment of pituitary carcinomas and aggressive pituitary adenomas. Here, we discuss the current indications and results of temozolomide therapy in pituitary tumors, as well as frequently asked questions regarding temozolomide treatment, duration of therapy, dosage, tumor recurrence and resistance.

Open access

Paraskevi Xekouki, Emily J Lodge, Jakob Matschke, Alice Santambrogio, John R Apps, Ariane Sharif, Thomas S Jacques, Simon Aylwin, Vincent Prevot, Ran Li, Jörg Flitsch, Stefan R Bornstein, Marily Theodoropoulou, and Cynthia L Andoniadou

Tumours of the anterior pituitary can manifest from all endocrine cell types but the mechanisms for determining their specification are not known. The Hippo kinase cascade is a crucial signalling pathway regulating growth and cell fate in numerous organs. There is mounting evidence implicating this in tumour formation, where it is emerging as an anti-cancer target. We previously demonstrated activity of the Hippo kinase cascade in the mouse pituitary and nuclear association of its effectors YAP/TAZ with SOX2-expressing pituitary stem cells. Here, we sought to investigate whether these components are expressed in the human pituitary and if they are deregulated in human pituitary tumours. Analysis of pathway components by immunofluorescence reveals pathway activity during normal human pituitary development and in the adult gland. Poorly differentiated pituitary tumours (null-cell adenomas, adamantinomatous craniopharyngiomas (ACPs) and papillary craniopharyngiomas (PCPs)), displayed enhanced expression of pathway effectors YAP/TAZ. In contrast, differentiated adenomas displayed lower or absent levels. Knockdown of the kinase-encoding Lats1 in GH3 rat mammosomatotropinoma cells suppressed Prl and Gh promoter activity following an increase in YAP/TAZ levels. In conclusion, we have demonstrated activity of the Hippo kinase cascade in the human pituitary and association of high YAP/TAZ with repression of the differentiated state both in vitro and in vivo. Characterisation of this pathway in pituitary tumours is of potential prognostic value, opening up putative avenues for treatments.