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Free access

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.

Free access

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


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.

Free access

William H Chong, Alfredo A Molinolo, Clara C Chen, and Michael T Collins

Tumor-induced osteomalacia (TIO) is a rare and fascinating paraneoplastic syndrome in which patients present with bone pain, fractures, and muscle weakness. The cause is high blood levels of the recently identified phosphate and vitamin D-regulating hormone, fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23). In TIO, FGF23 is secreted by mesenchymal tumors that are usually benign, but are typically very small and difficult to locate. FGF23 acts primarily at the renal tubule and impairs phosphate reabsorption and 1α-hydroxylation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, leading to hypophosphatemia and low levels of 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D. A step-wise approach utilizing functional imaging (F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography and octreotide scintigraphy) followed by anatomical imaging (computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging), and, if needed, selective venous sampling with measurement of FGF23 is usually successful in locating the tumors. For tumors that cannot be located, medical treatment with phosphate supplements and active vitamin D (calcitriol or alphacalcidiol) is usually successful; however, the medical regimen can be cumbersome and associated with complications. This review summarizes the current understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease and provides guidance in evaluating and treating these patients. Novel imaging modalities and medical treatments, which hold promise for the future, are also reviewed.

Free access

Srilatha Swami, Aruna V Krishnan, Lihong Peng, Johan Lundqvist, and David Feldman

Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3), the hormonally active metabolite of vitamin D, exerts its anti-proliferative activity in breast cancer (BCa) cells by multiple mechanisms including the downregulation of the expression of estrogen receptor α (ER). We analyzed an ∼3.5 kb ER promoter sequence and demonstrated the presence of two potential negative vitamin D response elements (nVDREs), a newly identified putative nVDRE upstream at −2488 to −2473 bp (distal nVDRE) and a previously published sequence (proximal nVDRE) at −94 to −70 bp proximal to the P1 start site. Transactivation analysis using ER promoter deletion constructs and heterologous promoter–reporter constructs revealed that both nVDREs functioned to mediate calcitriol transrepression. In the electrophoretic mobility shift assay, the vitamin D receptor (VDR) showed strong binding to both nVDREs in the presence of calcitriol, and the chromatin immunoprecipitation assay demonstrated the recruitment of the VDR to the distal nVDRE site. Mutations in the 5′ hexameric DNA sequence of the distal nVDRE resulted in the loss of calcitriol-mediated transrepression and the inhibition of protein–DNA complex formation, demonstrating the importance of these nucleotides in VDR DNA binding and transrepression. A putative nuclear factor-Y (NFY) binding site, identified within the distal nVDRE, led to the findings that NFY bound to the distal nVDRE site interfered with the binding of the VDR at the site and reduced calcitriol-mediated transrepression. In conclusion, the ER promoter region contains two negative VDREs that act in concert to bind to the VDR and both nVDREs are required for the maximal inhibition of ER expression by calcitriol. The suppression of ER expression and estrogen-mediated signaling by calcitriol in BCa cells suggests that vitamin D may be useful in the treatment of ER+ BCa.

Free access

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.

Free access

María Jesús Larriba, Noelia Valle, Héctor G Pálmer, Paloma Ordóñez-Morán, Silvia Álvarez-Díaz, Karl-Friedrich Becker, Carlos Gamallo, Antonio García de Herreros, José Manuel González-Sancho, and Alberto Muñoz

The Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway is activated in 90% of human colon cancers by nuclear accumulation of β-catenin protein due to its own mutation or to that of adenomatous polyposis coli. In the nucleus, β-catenin regulates gene expression promoting cell proliferation, migration and invasiveness. 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) inhibits β-catenin signalling by inducing its binding to vitamin D receptor (VDR) and by promoting β-catenin nuclear export. The transcription factor Snail1 represses VDR expression and we demonstrate here that Snail1 also abolishes the nuclear export of β-catenin induced by 1,25(OH)2D3 in SW480-ADH cells. Accordingly, Snail1 relieves the inhibition exerted by 1,25(OH)2D3 on genes whose expression is driven by β-catenin, such as c-MYC, ectodermal-neural cortex-1 (ENC-1) or ephrin receptor B2 (EPHB2). In addition, Snail1 abrogates the inhibitory effect of 1,25(OH)2D3 on cell proliferation and migration. In xenografted mice, Snail1 impedes the nuclear export of β-catenin and the inhibition of ENC-1 expression induced by EB1089, a 1,25(OH)2D3 analogue. The elevation of endogenous SNAIL1 protein levels reproduces the effect of an ectopic Snail1 gene. Remarkably, the expression of exogenous VDR in cells with high levels of Snail1 normalizes the transcriptional responses to 1,25(OH)2D3. However, this exogenous VDR failed to fully restore the blockage of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway by 1,25(OH)2D3. This suggests that the effects of Snail1 on this pathway are not merely due to the repression of VDR gene. We conclude that Snail1 is a positive regulator of the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway in part through the abrogation of the inhibitory action of 1,25(OH)2D3.

Free access

Alyson Murray, Stephen F Madden, Naoise C Synnott, Rut Klinger, Darran O'Connor, Norma O'Donovan, William Gallagher, John Crown, and Michael J Duffy

Considerable epidemiological evidence suggests that high levels of circulating vitamin D (VD) are associated with a decreased incidence and increased survival from cancer, i.e., VD may possess anti-cancer properties. The aim of this investigation was therefore to investigate the anti-cancer potential of a low calcaemic vitamin D analogue, i.e., inecalcitol and compare it with the active form of vitamin D, i.e., calcitriol, in a panel of breast cancer cell lines (n = 15). Using the MTT assay, IC50 concentrations for response to calcitriol varied from 0.12 µM to >20 µM, whereas those for inecalcitol were significantly lower, ranging from 2.5 nM to 63 nM (P = 0.001). Sensitivity to calcitriol and inecalcitol was higher in VD receptor (VDR)-positive compared to VDR-negative cell lines (P = 0.0007 and 0.0080, respectively) and in ER-positive compared to ER-negative cell lines (P = 0.043 and 0.005, respectively). Using RNA-seq analysis, substantial but not complete overlap was found between genes differentially regulated by calcitriol and inecalcitol. In particular, significantly enriched gene ontology terms such as cell surface signalling and cell communication were found after treatment with inecalcitol but not with calcitriol. In contrast, ossification and bone morphogenesis were found significantly enriched after treatment with calcitriol but not with inecalcitol. Our preclinical results suggest that calcitriol and inecalcitol can inhibit breast cancer cell line growth, especially in cells expressing ER and VDR. As inecalcitol is significantly more potent than calcitriol and has low calcaemic potential, it should be further investigated for the treatment of breast cancer.

Open access

Marc Sinotte, François Rousseau, Pierre Ayotte, Eric Dewailly, Caroline Diorio, Yves Giguère, Sylvie Bérubé, and Jacques Brisson

Vitamin D has been associated with reduced breast cancer risk. We studied the association of two vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene single nucleotide polymorphisms restriction enzyme detecting SNP of VDR (FokI and BsmI) with breast cancer risk in two independent case–control studies carried out in the same population. The modifying effect of family history of breast cancer on this relationship was also evaluated. The first and second studies included respectively 718 (255 cases/463 controls) and 1596 (622 cases/974 controls) women recruited in Quebec City, Canada. FokI and BsmI genotypes were assessed. Relative risks of breast cancer were estimated by multivariate logistic regression. Compared with homozygotes for the common F allele (FF genotype), FokI ff homozygotes had a higher breast cancer risk (study 1: odds ratio (OR)=1.22, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.76–1.95; study 2: OR=1.44, 95% CI=1.05–1.99; and combined studies: OR=1.33, 95% CI=1.03–1.73). Significant interactions were observed between FokI and family history of breast cancer in the two studies as well as in the combined analysis (P interaction=0.031, 0.050 and 0.0059 respectively). Among women without family history, odds ratios were 1.00, 1.27 (95% CI=1.02–1.58) and 1.57 (95% CI=1.18–2.10) respectively for FF, Ff and ff carriers (P trend=0.0013). BsmI Bb+bb genotypes were associated with a weak non-significant increased risk in the two studies (combined OR=1.22, 95% CI=0.95–1.57) without interaction with family history. Results support the idea that vitamin D, through its signalling pathway, can affect breast cancer risk. They also suggest that variability in observed associations between VDR FokI and breast cancer from different studies may partly be explained by the proportion of study subjects with a family history of breast cancer.

Free access

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.

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.