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Open access

Thomas Cuny, Caroline Zeiller, Martin Bidlingmaier, Céline Défilles, Catherine Roche, Marie-Pierre Blanchard, Marily Theodoropoulou, Thomas Graillon, Morgane Pertuit, Dominique Figarella-Branger, Alain Enjalbert, Thierry Brue, and Anne Barlier

Pegvisomant (PEG), an antagonist of growth hormone (GH)-receptor (GHR), normalizes insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) oversecretion in most acromegalic patients unresponsive to somatostatin analogs (SSAs) and/or uncontrolled by transsphenoidal surgery. The residual GH-secreting tumor is therefore exposed to the action of circulating PEG. However, the biological effect of PEG at the pituitary level remains unknown. To assess the impact of PEG in vitro on the hormonal secretion (GH and prolactin (PRL)), proliferation and cellular viability of eight human GH-secreting tumors in primary cultures and of the rat somatolactotroph cell line GH4C1. We found that the mRNA expression levels of GHR were characterized in 31 human GH-secreting adenomas (0.086 copy/copy β-Gus) and the GHR was identified by immunocytochemistry staining. In 5/8 adenomas, a dose-dependent inhibition of GH secretion was observed under PEG with a maximum of 38.2±17% at 1μg/mL (P<0.0001 vs control). A dose-dependent inhibition of PRL secretion occurred in three mixed GH/PRL adenomas under PEG with a maximum of 52.8±11.5% at 10μg/mL (P<0.0001 vs control). No impact on proliferation of either human primary tumors or GH4C1 cell line was observed. We conclude that PEG inhibits the secretion of GH and PRL in primary cultures of human GH(/PRL)-secreting pituitary adenomas without effect on cell viability or cell proliferation.

Free access

Anne Wierinckx, Carole Auger, Pauline Devauchelle, Arlette Reynaud, Pascale Chevallier, Michel Jan, Gilles Perrin, Michelle Fèvre-Montange, Catherine Rey, Dominique Figarella-Branger, Gérald Raverot, Marie-Françoise Belin, Joël Lachuer, and Jacqueline Trouillas

Although most pituitary tumors are benign, some are invasive or aggressive. In the absence of specific markers of malignancy, only tumors with metastases are considered malignant. To identify markers of invasion and aggressiveness, we focused on prolactin (PRL) tumors in the human and rat. Using radiology and histological methods, we classified 25 human PRL tumors into three groups (non-invasive, invasive, and aggressive–invasive) and compared them with a model of transplantable rat PRL tumors with benign and malignant lineages. Combining histological(mitoses and labeling for Ki-67, P53, pituitary transforming tumor gene (PTTG), and polysialic acid neural cell adhesion molecule) and transcriptomic (microarrays and q-RTPCR) methods with clinical data (post-surgical outcome with case–control statistical analysis), we found nine genes implicated in invasion (ADAMTS6, CRMP1, and DCAMKL3) proliferation (PTTG, ASK, CCNB1, AURKB, and CENPE), or pituitary differentiation (PITX1) showing differential expression in the three groups of tumors (P = 0.015 to 0.0001). A case–control analysis, comparing patients in remission (9 controls) and patients with persistent or recurrent tumors (14 cases) revealed that eight out of the nine genes were differentially up- or downregulated (P = 0.05 to 0.002), with only PTTG showing no correlation with clinical course (P = 0.258). These combined histological and transcriptomic analyses improve the pathological diagnosis of PRL tumors, indicating a reliable procedure for predicting tumor aggressiveness and recurrence potential. The similar gene profiles found between non-invasive human and benign rat tumors, as well as between aggressive–invasive human and malignant rat tumors provide new insights into malignancy in human pituitary tumors.

Free access

Cuong V Duong, Richard D Emes, Frank Wessely, Kiren Yacqub-Usman, Richard N Clayton, and William E Farrell

DNA methylation is one of the several epigenetic modifications that together with genetic aberrations are hallmarks of tumorigenesis including those emanating from the pituitary gland. In this study, we examined DNA methylation across 27 578 CpG sites spanning more than 14 000 genes in the major pituitary adenoma subtypes. Genome-wide changes were first determined in a discovery cohort comprising non-functioning (NF), growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL)-secreting and corticotroph (CT) adenoma relative to post-mortem pituitaries. Using stringent cut-off criteria, we validated increased methylation by pyrosequencing in 12 of 16 (75%) genes. Overall, these criteria identified 40 genes in NF, 21 in GH, six in PRL and two in CT that were differentially methylated relative to controls. In a larger independent cohort of adenomas, for genes in which hypermethylation had been validated, different frequencies of hypermethylation were apparent, where the KIAA1822 (HHIPL1) and TFAP2E genes were hypermethylated in 12 of 13 NF adenomas whereas the COL1A2 gene showed an increase in two of 13 adenomas. For genes showing differential methylation across and between adenoma subtypes, pyrosequencing confirmed these findings. In three of 12 genes investigated, an inverse relationship between methylation and transcript expression was observed where increased methylation of EML2, RHOD and HOXB1 is associated with significantly reduced transcript expression. This study provides the first genome-wide survey of adenoma, subtype-specific epigenomic changes and will prove useful for identification of biomarkers that perhaps predict or characterise growth patterns. The functional characterisation of identified genes will also provide insight of tumour aetiology and identification of new therapeutic targets.

Free access

S K Kang, K-C Choi, H-S Yang, and P C K Leung

Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) functions as a key neuroendocrine regulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. In addition to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, GnRH and its receptor have been detected in other reproductive tissues including the gonads, placenta and tumours arising from these tissues. Recently, a second form of GnRH (GnRH-II) and type II GnRH receptor have been found in normal ovarian surface epithelium and neoplastic counterparts. The two types of GnRH may play an important role as an autocrine/paracrine regulator of reproductive functions and ovarian tumour growth. In this review, the distribution and potential roles of GnRH-I/-II and their GnRH receptors in the ovarian cells and ovarian cancer will be discussed.

Free access

B K Vonderhaar

Normal development and differentiation of the mammary gland are profoundly influenced by prolactin (PRL). In rodent mammary cancer PRL plays a well defined role, but its role, in human breast cancer has not been appreciated until recently. It is now clear that breast tissue, both normal and malignant, is a significant source of extrapituitary PRL. Thus an autocrine/paracrine role of PRL in human breast cancer may be invoked. Both PRL and PRL receptor mRNA are expressed in the vast majority of breast cancer biopsies independent of estrogen and progesterone receptor status. An autocrine/paracrine PRL acting in human breast cancer requires that this hormone's action be blocked at the cellular level, as opposed to suppressing the synthesis and secretion of pituitary PRL. Mutants of PRL or human growth hormone are being explored which act as selective PRL antagonists. In addition, tamoxifen has been shown to act locally at the target tissue by binding directly to the PRL receptor and thus inhibiting PRL's action. These strategies may have clinical relevance in treating PRL-responsive human breast cancer.

Open access

I Ben-Batalla, S Seoane, M Macia, T Garcia-Caballero, L O Gonzalez, F Vizoso, and R Perez-Fernandez

The transcription factor Pit-1/Pou1f1 regulates GH and prolactin (PRL) secretion in the pituitary gland. Pit-1 expression and GH regulation by Pit-1 have also been demonstrated in mammary gland. However, no data are available on the role of Pit-1 on breast PRL. To evaluate this role, several human breast cancer cell lines were transfected with either the Pit-1 expression vector or a Pit-1 small interference RNA construct, followed by PRL mRNA and protein evaluation. In addition, transient transfection of MCF-7 cells by a reporter construct containing the proximal PRL promoter, and ChIP assays were performed. Our data indicate that Pit-1 regulates mammary PRL at transcriptional level by binding to the proximal PRL promoter. We also found that Pit-1 raises cyclin D1 expression before increasing PRL levels, suggesting a PRL-independent effect of Pit-1 on cell proliferation. By using immunohistochemistry, we found a significant correlation between Pit-1 and PRL expression in 94 human breast invasive ductal carcinomas. Considering the possible role of PRL in breast cancer disorders, the function of Pit-1 in breast should be the focus of further research.

Free access

Elizabeth W LaPensee and Nira Ben-Jonathan

Resistance to chemotherapy is a major complication in the treatment of advanced breast cancer. Estrogens and prolactin (PRL) are implicated in the pathogenesis of breast cancer but their roles in chemoresistance have been overlooked. A common feature to the two hormones is activation of their receptors by diverse compounds, which mimic or antagonize their actions. The PRL receptor is activated by lactogens (PRL, GH, or placental lactogen) originating from the pituitary, breast, adipose tissue, or the placenta. Estrogen receptors exist in multiple membrane-associated and cytoplasmic forms that can be activated by endogenous estrogens, man-made chemicals, and phytoestrogens. Here, we review evidence that low doses of PRL, estradiol (E2), and bisphenol A (BPA) antagonize multiple anticancer drugs that induce cell death by different mechanisms. Focusing on cisplatin, a DNA-damaging drug which is effective in the treatment of many cancer types but not breast cancer, we compare the abilities of PRL, E2, and BPA to antagonize its cytotoxicity. Whereas PRL acts by activating the glutathione-S-transferase detoxification enzyme, E2 and BPA act by inducing the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2. The implications of these findings to patients undergoing chemotherapy are discussed.

Free access

Louise Maymann Rasmussen, Klaus Stensgaard Frederiksen, Nanni Din, Elisabeth Galsgaard, Leif Christensen, Martin Werner Berchtold, and Svetlana Panina

The pituitary hormone prolactin (PRL) plays an important role in mammary gland development. It was also suggested to contribute to breast cancer progression. In vivo data strongly supported a crucial role of PRL in promoting tumour growth; however, PRL demonstrated only a weak, if any, pro-proliferative effect on cancer cells in vitro. Several recent studies indicated that PRL action in vivo may be influenced by the hormonal milieu, e.g. other growth factors such as 17β-oestradiol (E2). Here, we explored the potential interplay between PRL and E2 in regulation of gene expression and cell growth. PRL alone induced either a weak or no proliferative response of T47D and BT-483 cells respectively, while it drastically enhanced cell proliferation in E2-stimulated cultures. Affymetrix microarray analysis revealed 12 genes to be regulated by E2, while 57 genes were regulated by PRL in T47D cells. Most of the PRL-regulated genes (42/57) were not previously described as PRL target genes, e.g. WT1 and IER3. One hundred and five genes were found to be regulated upon PRL/E2 co-treatment: highest up-regulation was found for EGR3, RUNX2, EGR1, MAFF, GLIPR1, IER3, SOCS3, WT1 and AREG. PRL and E2 synergised to regulate EGR3, while multiple genes were regulated additively. These data show a novel interplay between PRL and E2 to modulate gene regulation in breast cancer cells.

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.

Restricted access

I Számel, B Budai, K Daubner, J Kralovánszky, Sz Ottó, J Tóth, and I Besznyák


Gross cystic disease (GCD) of the breast may be associated with a higher risk for the development of breast cancer. High levels of sex steroids, steroid hormone precursors, prolactin and cations have been found in breast cyst fluid (BCF) by several investigators. Accordingly, endocrine parameters and the cationic composition of BCF may be considered as useful characteristics to follow patients bearing macrocysts. In this study we have investigated the concentrations of estradiol (E2), progesterone, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHA) and DHA-3-sulfate (DHA-S), prolactin, potassium (K+) and sodium (Na+) in BCF aspirated from 99 women. The mean age of the patients was 49.8 years (range 32-58). The hormone levels were measured by RIA methods; K+ and Na+ were determined by flame photometry. Estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHA, DHA-S, prolactin and K+ showed significant accumulation in the BCF compared with their respective serum values. The K+/Na+ ratio proved to be useful in dividing cysts into type I (≥1), type II (<1 but ≥0.1) and type III (<0.1) subgroups. For type I BCF, higher DHA, DHA-S and prolactin concentrations were detected. Linear regression analysis established a highly significant (P<0.001) correlation between the concentrations of E2 and DHA-S (r=0.686), and also between testosterone and DHA-S (r=0.711). These findings indicate that type I BCF might be a marker for 'active' GCD of the breast, and suggest that it may be associated with an increased breast cancer risk, since this group of patients is supposed to have cysts with apocrine metaplasia. It is suggested therefore that when BCF is aspirated, sex steroids, steroid precursors and cations should be routinely measured, and women with type I cysts should be regularly examined.