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E Puxeddu, J A Knauf, M A Sartor, N Mitsutake, E P Smith, M Medvedovic, C R Tomlinson, S Moretti, and J A Fagin

RET/PTC rearrangements represent key genetic events involved in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) initiation. The aim of the present study was to identify the early changes in gene expression induced by RET/PTC in thyroid cells. For this purpose, microarray analysis was conducted on PCCL3 cells conditionally expressing the RET/PTC3 oncogene. Gene expression profiling 48 h after activation of RET/PTC3 identified a statistically significant modification of expression of 270 genes. Quantitative PCR confirmation of 20 of these demonstrated 90% accuracy of the microarray. Functional clustering of genes with greater than or less than 1.75-fold expression change (86 genes) revealed RET/PTC3-induced regulation of genes with key functions in apoptosis (Ripk3, Tdga), cell–cell signaling (Cdh6, Fn1), cell cycle (Il24), immune and inflammation response (Cxcl10, Scya2, Il6, Gbp2, Oas1, Tap1, RT1Aw2, C2ta, Irf1, Lmp2, Psme2, Prkr), metabolism (Aldob, Ptges, Nd2, Gss, Gstt1), signal transduction (Socs3, Nf1, Jak2, Cpg21, Dusp6, Socs1, Stat1, Stat3, Cish) and transcription (Nr4a1, Junb, Hfh1, Runx1, Foxe1). Genes coding for proteins involved in the immune response and in intracellular signal transduction pathways activated by cytokines and chemokines were strongly represented, indicating a critical role of RET/PTC3 in the early modulation of the immune response.

Free access

Nabahet Ameur, Ludovic Lacroix, Sophie Roucan, Véronique Roux, Sophie Broutin, Monique Talbot, Corinne Dupuy, Bernard Caillou, Martin Schlumberger, and Jean-Michel Bidart

RET oncogene mutations are found in familial medullary thyroid carcinomas (MTC) and in one-third of sporadic cases. Oncogenic mechanisms involved in non-RET mutated sporadic MTC remain unclear. To study alterations associated with the development of both inherited and sporadic MTC, pangenomic DNA microarrays were used to analyze the transcriptome of 13 MTCs (four familial and nine sporadic). By using an ANOVA test, a list of 173 gene sequences with at least a twofold change expression was obtained. A subset of differentially expressed genes was controlled by real-time quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry on a larger collection of MTCs. The expression pattern of those genes allowed us to distinguish two groups of sporadic tumors. The first group displays an expression profile similar to that expressed by inherited RET634 tumors. The second presents an expression profile close to that displayed by inherited RET918 tumors and includes tumors from patients with distant metastases. It is characterized by the overexpression of genes involved in proliferation and invasion (PTN, ESM1, and CEACAM6) or matrix remodeling (COL1A1, COL1A2, and FAP). Interestingly, RET918 tumors showed overexpression of the PTN gene, encoding pleiotrophin, a protein associated with metastasis. Using a MTC cell line, silencing of RET induced the inhibition of PTN gene expression. Overall, our results suggest that familial MTC and sporadic MTC could activate similar oncogenic pathways.

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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.

Free access

Tim J Takkenkamp, Mathilde Jalving, Frederik J H Hoogwater, and Annemiek M E Walenkamp

Immunotherapy in the form of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) has transformed the treatment landscape in numerous types of advanced cancer. However, the majority of patients do not benefit from this treatment modality. Although data are scarce, in general, patients with low-grade neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) do not benefit from treatment with ICIs in contrast to patients with neuroendocrine carcinoma, in which a small subgroup of patients may benefit. Low- and intermediate-grade NETs predominantly lack factors associated with response to ICIs treatment, like immune cell infiltration, and have an immunosuppressive tumour metabolism and microenvironment. In addition, because of its potential influence on the response to ICIs, major interest has been shown in the tryptophan-degrading enzymes indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO). These enzymes work along the kynurenine pathway that deplete tryptophan in the tumour microenvironment. IDO and TDO are especially of interest in NETs since some tumours produce serotonin but the majority do not, which potentially deplete the precursor tryptophan. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the immune tumour microenvironment of neuroendocrine tumours and implications for treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors. We also discuss (targetable) factors in the NET tumour microenvironment that potentially modulate the anti-cancer immune response.

Free access

Aristides Lytras and George Tolis

In the context of multiple neuroendocrine tumor syndromes, reproductive abnormalities may occur via a number of different mechanisms, such as hyperprolactinemia, increased GH/IGF-1 levels, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, hypercortisolism, hyperandrogenism, hyperthyroidism, gonadotropin hypersecretion, as well as, tumorigenesis or functional disturbances in gonads or other reproductive organs. Precocious puberty and/or male feminization is a feature of McCune–Albright syndrome (MAS), neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), Carney complex (CNC), and Peutz–Jeghers syndrome (PJS), while sperm maturation and ovulation defects have been described in MAS and CNC. Although tumorigenesis of reproductive organs due to a multiple neuroendocrine tumor syndrome is very rare, certain lesions are characteristic and very unusual in the general population. Awareness leading to their recognition is important especially when other endocrine abnormalities coexist, as occasionally they may even be the first manifestation of a syndrome. Lesions such as certain types of ovarian cysts (MAS, CNC), pseudogynecomastia due to neurofibromas of the nipple–areola area (NF1), breast disease (CNC and Cowden disease (CD)), cysts and ‘hypernephroid’ tumors of the epididymis or bilateral papillary cystadenomas (mesosalpinx cysts) and endometrioid cystadenomas of the broad ligament (von Hippel–Lindau disease), testicular Sertoli calcifying tumors (CNC, PJS) monolateral or bilateral macroochidism and microlithiasis (MAS) may offer diagnostic clues. In addition, multiple neuroendocrine tumor syndromes may be complicated by reproductive malignancies including ovarian cancer in CNC, breast and endometrial cancer in CD, breast malignancies in NF1, and malignant sex-cord stromal tumors in PJS.

Free access

Matthew H Kulke

Traditional therapies have offered patients with advanced gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors limited benefit. Selected patients with hepatic metastases may benefit from surgical debulking, embolization, or other ablative therapies. While somatostatin analogs are highly effective in controlling symptoms of hormonal secretion, they are only rarely associated with tumor regression. The clinical benefit associated with the administration of systemic agents such as interferon-α or cytotoxic chemotherapy is less clear, and the widespread use of such regimens has been limited by their relatively modest anti-tumor activity, as well as concerns regarding their potential toxicity. The mixed clinical results seen with these agents in neuroendocrine tumors have led to great interest in the development of novel treatment approaches for patients with advanced disease. Recent clinical studies of novel agents, particularly those targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor pathway and mammalian target of rapamycin, have demonstrated promising activity in patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors. Ongoing randomized studies should help better define the role these and other targeted agents will play in the future treatment of patients with this disease.

Free access

Federica Grillo, Tullio Florio, Francesco Ferraù, Elda Kara, Giuseppe Fanciulli, Antongiulio Faggiano, Annamaria Colao, and NIKE Group

In the last few years, the therapeutic approach for neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) has changed dramatically following the approval of several novel targeted treatments. The multitarget tyrosine kinase inhibitor (MTKI), sunitinib malate, has been approved by Regulatory Agencies in pancreatic NENs. The MTKI class, however, includes several other molecules (approved for other conditions), which are currently being studied in NENs. An in-depth review on the studies published on the MTKIs in neuroendocrine tumors such as axitinib, cabozantinib, famitinib, lenvatinib, nintedanib, pazopanib, sorafenib and sulfatinib was performed. Furthermore, we extensively searched on the Clinical Trial Registries databases worldwide, in order to collect information on the ongoing clinical trials related to this topic. Our systematic analysis on emerging MTKIs in the treatment of gastroenteropancreatic and lung NENs identifies in vitro and in vivo studies, which demonstrate anti-tumor activity of diverse MTKIs on neuroendocrine cells and tumors. Moreover, for the first time in the literature, we report an updated view concerning the upcoming clinical trials in this field: presently, phase I, II and III clinical trials are ongoing and will include, overall, a staggering 1667 patients. This fervid activity underlines the increasing interest of the scientific community in the use of emerging MTKIs in NEN treatment.

Free access

Michael Derwahl and Diana Nicula

Proliferative thyroid diseases are more prevalent in females than in males. Upon the onset of puberty, the incidence of thyroid cancer increases in females only and declines again after menopause. Estrogen is a potent growth factor both for benign and malignant thyroid cells that may explain the sex difference in the prevalence of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer. It exerts its growth-promoting effect through a classical genomic and a non-genomic pathway, mediated via a membrane-bound estrogen receptor. This receptor is linked to the tyrosine kinase signaling pathways MAPK and PI3K. In papillary thyroid carcinomas, these pathways may be activated either by a chromosomal rearrangement of the tyrosine receptor kinase TRKA, by RET/PTC genes, or by a BRAF mutation and, in addition, in females they may be stimulated by high levels of estrogen. Furthermore, estrogen is involved in the regulation of angiogenesis and metastasis that are critical for the outcome of thyroid cancer. In contrast to other carcinomas, however, detailed knowledge on this regulation is still missing for thyroid cancer.

Open access

Nimrod B Kiss, Andreas Muth, Adam Andreasson, C Christofer Juhlin, Janos Geli, Martin Bäckdahl, Anders Höög, Bo Wängberg, Ola Nilsson, Håkan Ahlman, and Catharina Larsson

Recurrent alterations in promoter methylation of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) and LINE1 (L1RE1) repeat elements were previously reported in pheochromocytoma and abdominal paraganglioma. This study was undertaken to explore CpG methylation abnormalities in an extended tumor panel and assess possible relationships between metastatic disease and mutation status. CpG methylation was quantified by bisulfite pyrosequencing for selected TSG promoters and LINE1 repeats. Methylation indices above normal reference were observed for DCR2 (TNFRSF10D), CDH1, P16 (CDKN2A), RARB, and RASSF1A. Z-scores for overall TSG, and individual TSG methylation levels, but not LINE1, were significantly correlated with metastatic disease, paraganglioma, disease predisposition, or outcome. Most strikingly, P16 hypermethylation was strongly associated with SDHB mutation as opposed to RET/MEN2, VHL/VHL, or NF1-related disease. Parallel analyses of constitutional, tumor, and metastasis DNA implicate an order of events where constitutional SDHB mutations are followed by TSG hypermethylation and 1p loss in primary tumors, later transferred to metastatic tissue. In the combined material, P16 hypermethylation was prevalent in SDHB-mutated samples and was associated with short disease-related survival. The findings verify the previously reported importance of P16 and other TSG hypermethylation in an independent tumor series. Furthermore, a constitutional SDHB mutation is proposed to predispose for an epigenetic tumor phenotype occurring before the emanation of clinically recognized malignancy.

Free access

Elizabeth G Grubbs, Ronald M Lechan, Beth Edeiken-Monroe, Gilbert J Cote, Chardria Trotter, Arthur S Tischler, and Robert F Gagel

Forty years ago, physicians caring for the J-kindred, a 100+ member family with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A), hypothesized that early thyroidectomy based on measurement of the biomarker calcitonin could cure patients at risk for development of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). We re-evaluated 22 family members with proven RET proto-oncogene mutations (C634G) who underwent thyroidectomy and central lymphadenectomy between 1972 and 1994 based on stimulated calcitonin abnormalities. Current disease status was evaluated by serum calcitonin measurement and neck ultrasound in 18 of the 22 prospectively screened patients. The median age of the cohort at thyroidectomy was 16.5 years (range 9–24). The median duration of follow-up at the time of examination was 40 years (range 21–43) with a median current age of 52 years (range 34–65). Fifteen of the 18 patients had no detectable serum calcitonin (<2 pg/mL). Three had detectable serum calcitonin measurements, inappropriately elevated following total thyroidectomy. None of the 16 patients imaged had an abnormal ultrasound. Survival analysis shows no MTC-related deaths in the prospectively screened patients, whereas there were many in prior generations. Early thyroidectomy based on biomarker testing has rendered 15 of 18 MEN2A patients (83%) calcitonin-free with a median follow-up period of 40 years. There have been no deaths in the prospectively screened and thyroidectomized group. We conclude that early thyroidectomy and central lymph node dissection is an effective prophylactic treatment for hereditary MTC.