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James Koh, Joyce A Hogue, Sanziana A Roman, Randall P Scheri, Hèléne Fradin, David L Corcoran, and Julie A Sosa

The clinical presentation of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) varies widely, although the underlying mechanistic reasons for this disparity remain unknown. We recently reported that parathyroid tumors can be functionally segregated into two distinct groups on the basis of their relative responsiveness to ambient calcium, and that patients in these groups differ significantly in their likelihood of manifesting bone disability. To examine the molecular basis for this phenotypic variation in PHPT, we compared the global gene expression profiles of calcium-sensitive and calcium-resistant parathyroid tumors. RNAseq and proteomic analysis identified a candidate set of differentially expressed genes highly correlated with calcium-sensing capacity. Subsequent quantitative assessment of the expression levels of these genes in an independent cohort of parathyroid tumors confirmed that calcium-sensitive tumors cluster in a discrete transcriptional profile group. These data indicate that PHPT is not an etiologically monolithic disorder and suggest that divergent molecular mechanisms could drive the observed phenotypic differences in PHPT disease course, provenance, and outcome.

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Jessica Svedlund, Elham Barazeghi, Peter Stålberg, Per Hellman, Göran Åkerström, Peyman Björklund, and Gunnar Westin

Primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) resulting from parathyroid tumors is a common endocrine disorder with incompletely understood etiology. In renal failure, secondary hyperparathyroidism (sHPT) occurs with multiple tumor development as a result of calcium and vitamin D regulatory disturbance. The aim of this study was to investigate a potential role of the histone 3 lysine 27 methyltransferase EZH2 in parathyroid tumorigenesis. Parathyroid tumors from patients with pHPT included adenomas and carcinomas. Hyperplastic parathyroid glands from patients with HPT secondary to uremia and normal parathyroid tissue specimens were included in this study. Quantitative RT-PCR, western blotting, bisulfite pyrosequencing, colony formation assay, and RNA interference were used. EZH2 was overexpressed in a subset of the benign and in all malignant parathyroid tumors as determined by quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting analyses. Overexpression was explained by EZH2 gene amplification in a large fraction of tumors. EZH2 depletion by RNA interference inhibited sHPT-1 parathyroid cell line proliferation as determined by tritium–thymidine incorporation and colony formation assays. EZH2 depletion also interfered with the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway by increased expression of growth-suppressive AXIN2, a negative regulator of β-catenin stability. Indeed, EZH2 contributed to the total level of aberrantly accumulated transcriptionally active (nonphosphoylated) β-catenin in the parathyroid tumor cells. To our knowledge EZH2 gene amplification presents the first genetic aberration common to parathyroid adenomas, secondary hyperplastic parathyroid glands, and parathyroid carcinomas. This supports the possibility of a common pathway in parathyroid tumor development.

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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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Martin Almquist, Elin Isaksson, and Naomi Clyne

Renal hyperparathyroidism (rHPT) is a complex and challenging disorder. It develops early in the course of renal failure and is associated with increased risks of fractures, cardiovascular disease and death. It is treated medically, but when medical therapy cannot control the hyperparathyroidism, surgical parathyroidectomy is an option. In this review, we summarize the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and medical treatment; we describe the effects of renal transplantation; and discuss the indications and strategies in parathyroidectomy for rHPT. Renal hyperparathyroidism develops early in renal failure, mainly as a consequence of lower levels of vitamin D, hypocalcemia, diminished excretion of phosphate and inability to activate vitamin D. Treatment consists of supplying vitamin D and reducing phosphate intake. In later stages calcimimetics might be added. RHPT refractory to medical treatment can be managed surgically with parathyroidectomy. Risks of surgery are small but not negligible. Parathyroidectomy should likely not be too radical, especially if the patient is a candidate for future renal transplantation. Subtotal or total parathyroidectomy with autotransplantation are recognized surgical options. Renal transplantation improves rHPT but does not cure it.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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S Takahashi, M Hakuta, K Aiba, Y Ito, N Horikoshi, M Miura, K Hatake, and E Ogata

Parathyroid hormone (PTH) and PTH-related protein/peptide (PTHrP) bind to the same PTH/PTHrP receptor and stimulate osteoblasts to secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin (IL)-6. In patients with primary hyperparathyroidism, elevation of plasma levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and IL-6 was also described. We, therefore, postulated that PTHrP secreted from cancer cells stimulates the secretion of cytokines and causes increases in their blood levels. Blood concentrations of several cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-11 and IL-12) in cancer-bearing patients with or without elevation of blood PTHrP were measured by ELISA. The patients with high plasma PTHrP levels (n=29, intact PTHrP: 8.5 +/- 1.4 pmol/l, normal: <1.1) had higher serum type 1 collagen C-telopeptide (ICTP). Twenty of the patients were hypercalcemic. Plasma concentrations of TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-8 were significantly increased in patients with high PTHrP, in either the presence or absence of hypercalcemia. The concentrations of TNF-alpha and IL-6 were also significantly correlated with those of PTHrP. Our observations indicate that high plasma levels of PTHrP in cancer-bearing patients contribute not only to the development of hypercalcemia, but also to the development of the syndrome caused by an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

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Elizabeth Grubbs, Daniel Halperin, Steven G Waguespack, and Robert F Gagel

The multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) workshops had their beginnings at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in June 1984. This initial meeting brought clinicians and scientists together to focus on mapping the gene for multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2). These efforts culminated in the identification of the RET protooncogene as the causative gene a decade later. Over the next 35 years there were a total of 16 international workshops focused on the several MEN syndromes. Importantly, these workshops were instrumental in efforts to define the molecular basis for multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), MEN2, von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL), Carney Complex, hereditary pheochromocytoma and hyperparathyroidism. In this same spirit some 150 scientists and clinicians met at MD Anderson Cancer Center, 27–29 March 2019, for the 16th International Workshop on Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN2019). Appropriate to its location in a cancer centre, the workshop focused on important issues in the causation and treatment of malignant aspects of the MEN syndromes: medullary thyroid carcinoma, pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours, malignant pheochromocytoma and parathyroid carcinoma. Workshops at the meeting focused on a better understanding of how the identified molecular defects in these genetic syndromes lead to transformation, how to apply targeted kinase inhibitors and immunotherapy to treat these tumours and important clinical management issues. This issue of Endocrine-Related Cancer describes these discussions and recommendations.