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Lisa D Berman-Booty and Karen E Knudsen

Prostate cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the USA and most western countries. Prostatic acinar adenocarcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed form of prostate cancer. Small-cell neuroendocrine carcinoma is less frequently identified at the time of initial diagnosis, but this highly aggressive form of prostate cancer is increasingly observed in patients who have failed first- and second-line hormone therapy. Thus, developing and exploring models of neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NePC) are of increasing importance. This review examines the relevant xenograft tumor and genetically engineered mouse models of NePC, with the aim of addressing salient features and clinical relevance.

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P H Kann, E Balakina, D Ivan, D K Bartsch, S Meyer, K-J Klose, Th Behr, and P Langer

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) enables detection and localization of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours. Even small tumours down to a diameter of 1–2 mm can be visualized. Since such small tumours usually cannot be detected by computed tomography (ct), magnetic resonance imaging (mri) and somatostatin receptor scintigraphy (srs), and experience with EUS imaging is limited, there is no clear evidence for clinical management in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). Knowledge about the natural course of growth and metastatic distribution is mandatory to come to appropriate clinical decisions and guidelines. This prospective study was aimed to assess the natural course of small (<15 mm) neuroendocrine pancreatic tumours without clinical symptoms due to endocrine activity or mechanical problems and without clear indication for surgical therapy in MEN1 by EUS.

A total of 82 asymptomatic tumours <15 mm (5.9 ± 3.2 mm diameter at baseline) in 20 patients with MEN1-disease (8 female/12 male, 43 ± 13 years) were studied over a period of 20 ± 12 months (33.8 patient years, 106.7 tumour years) by EUS. Change in largest diameter of each tumour and annual tumour incidence rate in the patients’ cohort were calculated.

Increase of largest tumour diameter was found to be 1.3 ± 3.2% per month, annual tumour incidence rate 0.62 new tumours per patient year. In one patient, rapid progressive pancreatic manifestation of MEN1 was observed. There was no evidence in ct and/or srs and/or mri for metastatic disease in all patients. Only 4/84 (4.8%) pancreatic tumours could be visualized by computed tomography, 5/79 (6.3%) by somatostatin receptor imaging and 4/39 (10.3%) by magnetic resonance imaging.

Small asymptomatic neuroendocrine pancreatic tumours in MEN1 usually seem to grow slowly. Annual tumour incidence rate is low. However, faster growing tumours and patients with rapidly progressive disease can be observed. Risk for obvious metastatic disease from asymptomatic neuroendocrine pancreatic tumours <15 mm in MEN1 seems to be low.

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Christodoulos P Pipinikas, Alison M Berner, Teresa Sposito, and Christina Thirlwell

Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) are a relatively rare group of heterogeneous tumours originating from neuroendocrine cells found throughout the body. Pancreatic NENs (PanNENs) are the second most common pancreatic malignancy accounting for 1–3% of all neoplasms developing in the pancreas. Despite having a low background mutation rate, driver mutations in MEN1, DAXX/ATRX and mTOR pathway genes (PTEN, TSC1/2) are implicated in disease development and progression. Their increased incidence coupled with advances in sequencing technologies has reignited the interest in PanNEN research and has accelerated the acquisition of molecular data. Studies utilising such technological advances have further enriched our knowledge of PanNENs’ biology through novel findings, including higher-than-expected presence of germline mutations in 17% of sporadic tumours of no familial background, identification of novel mutational signatures and complex chromosomal rearrangements and a dysregulated epigenetic machinery. Integrated genomic studies have progressed the field by identifying the synergistic action between different molecular mechanisms, while holding the promise for deciphering disease heterogeneity. Although our understanding is far from being complete, these novel findings have provided the optimism of shaping the future of PanNEN research, ultimately leading to an era of precision medicine for NETs. Here, we recapitulate the existing knowledge on pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (PanNETs) and discuss how recent, novel findings have furthered our understanding of these complex tumours.

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Martin B Niederle, Monika Hackl, Klaus Kaserer, and Bruno Niederle

As incidence data on gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (GEP-NETs) have so far only been retrospectively obtained and based on inhomogeneous material, we conducted a prospective study in Austria collecting all newly diagnosed GEP-NETs during 1 year. Using the current WHO classification, the tumor, nodes, metastases (TNM) staging and Ki67 grading and the standard diagnostic procedure proposed by the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (ENETS), GEP-NETs from 285 patients (male: 148; female: 137) were recorded. The annual incidence rates were 2.51 per 100 000 inhabitants for men, 2.36 per 100 000 for women. The stomach (23%) was the main site, followed by appendix (21%), small intestine (15%) and rectum (14%). Patients with appendiceal tumours were significantly younger than patients with tumours in any other site. About 46.0% were classified as benign, 15.4% as uncertain, 31.9% as well differentiated malignant and 6.7% as poorly differentiated malignant. Patients with benign or uncertain tumours were significantly younger than patients with malignant tumours. Among the malignant tumours of the digestive tract, 1.49% arose from neuroendocrine cells. For malignant gastrointestinal NETs, the incidence was 0.80 per 100 000: 40.9% were ENETS stage I, 23.8% stage II, 11.6% stage III and 23.8% stage IV. The majority (59.7%) were grade 1, 31.2% grade 2 and 9.1% grade 3. NETs of the digestive tract are more common than previously reported; the majority show benign behaviour, are located in the stomach and are well differentiated. G3 tumours are very rare.

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Zijie Feng, Jian Ma, and Xianxin Hua

There is a trend of increasing prevalence of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), and the inherited multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome serves as a genetic model to investigate how NETs develop and the underlying mechanisms. Menin, encoded by the MEN1 gene, at least partly acts as a scaffold protein by interacting with multiple partners to regulate cellular homeostasis of various endocrine organs. Menin has multiple functions including regulation of several important signaling pathways by controlling gene transcription. Here, we focus on reviewing the recent progress in elucidating the key biochemical role of menin in epigenetic regulation of gene transcription and cell signaling, as well as posttranslational regulation of menin itself. In particular, we will review the progress in studying structural and functional interactions of menin with various histone modifiers and transcription factors such as MLL, PRMT5, SUV39H1 and other transcription factors including c-Myb and JunD. Moreover, the role of menin in regulating cell signaling pathways such as TGF-beta, Wnt and Hedgehog, as well as miRNA biogenesis and processing will be described. Further, the regulation of the MEN1 gene transcription, posttranslational modifications and stability of menin protein will be reviewed. These various modes of regulation by menin as well as regulation of menin by various biological factors broaden the view regarding how menin controls various biological processes in neuroendocrine organ homeostasis.

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Rami Alrezk, Fady Hannah-Shmouni, and Constantine A Stratakis

Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) refers to a group of autosomal dominant disorders with generally high penetrance that lead to the development of a wide spectrum of endocrine and non-endocrine manifestations. The most frequent among these conditions is MEN type 1 (MEN1), which is caused by germline heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the tumor suppressor gene MEN1. MEN1 is characterized by primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and functional or nonfunctional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and pituitary adenomas. Approximately 10% of patients with familial or sporadic MEN1-like phenotype do not have MEN1 mutations or deletions. A novel MEN syndrome was discovered, initially in rats (MENX), and later in humans (MEN4), which is caused by germline mutations in the putative tumor suppressor CDKN1B. The most common phenotype of the 19 established cases of MEN4 that have been described to date is PHPT followed by pituitary adenomas. Recently, somatic or germline mutations in CDKN1B were also identified in patients with sporadic PHPT, small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors, lymphoma and breast cancer, demonstrating a novel role for CDKN1B as a tumor susceptibility gene for other neoplasms. In this review, we report on the genetic characterization and clinical features of MEN4.

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Rachel S van Leeuwaarde, Joanne M de Laat, Carolina R C Pieterman, Koen Dreijerink, Menno R Vriens, and Gerlof D Valk

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 is a rare autosomal inherited disorder associated with a high risk for patients to simultaneously develop tumors of the parathyroid glands, duodenopancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and tumors of the anterior pituitary gland. Early identification of MEN1 in patients enables presymptomatic screening of manifestations, which makes timely interventions possible with the intention to prevent morbidity and mortality. Causes of death nowadays have shifted toward local or metastatic progression of malignant neuroendocrine tumors. In early cohorts, complications like peptic ulcers in gastrinoma, renal failure in hyperparathyroidism, hypoglycemia and acute hypercalcemia were the primary causes of early mortality. Improved medical treatments of these complications led to a significantly improved life expectancy. The MEN1 landscape is still evolving, considering the finding of breast cancer as a new MEN1-related manifestation and ongoing publications on follow-up and medical care for patients with MEN1. This review aims at summarizing the most recent insights into the follow-up and medical care for patients with MEN1 and identifying the gaps for future research.

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Yeting Du, Monica Ter-Minassian, Lauren Brais, Nichole Brooks, Amanda Waldron, Jennifer A Chan, Xihong Lin, Peter Kraft, David C Christiani, and Matthew H Kulke

The etiology of neuroendocrine tumors remains poorly defined. Although neuroendocrine tumors are in some cases associated with inherited genetic syndromes, such syndromes are rare. The majority of neuroendocrine tumors are thought to be sporadic. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify potential genetic risk factors for sporadic neuroendocrine tumors. Using germline DNA from blood specimens, we genotyped 909,622 SNPs using the Affymetrix 6.0 GeneChip, in a cohort comprising 832 neuroendocrine tumor cases from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital and 4542 controls from the Harvard School of Public Health. An additional 241 controls from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were used for quality control. We assessed risk associations in the overall cohort, and in neuroendocrine tumor subgroups. We identified no potential risk associations in the cohort overall. In the small intestine neuroendocrine tumor subgroup, comprising 293 cases, we identified risk associations with three SNPs on chromosome 12, all in strong LD. The three SNPs are located upstream of ELK3, a transcription factor implicated in angiogenesis. We did not identify clear risk associations in the bronchial or pancreatic neuroendocrine subgroups. This large-scale study provides initial evidence that presumed sporadic small intestine neuroendocrine tumors may have a genetic etiology. Our results provide a basis for further exploring the role of genes implicated in this analysis, and for replication studies to confirm the observed associations. Additional studies to evaluate potential genetic risk factors for sporadic pancreatic and bronchial neuroendocrine tumors are warranted.

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Jerena Manoharan, Max B Albers, and Detlef K Bartsch

Prospective randomized data are lacking, but current clinical expert guidelines recommend annual screening examinations, including laboratory assessments and various imaging modalities (e.g. CT, MRI, scintigraphy and EUS) for patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). Routine screening is proposed to detect and localize neuroendocrine manifestations as early as possible. The goal is timely intervention to improve quality of life and to increase life expectancy by preventing the development of life-threatening hormonal syndromes and/or metastatic disease. In recent years, some studies compared different and new imaging methods regarding their sensitivity and utility in MEN1 patients. This present article reviews the proposed diagnostic tools for MEN1 screening as well as potential future perspectives.

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S M Sadowski, G Cadiot, E Dansin, P Goudet, and F Triponez

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is a hereditary autosomal dominant disorder associated with numerous neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Recent advances in the management of MEN1 have led to a decrease in mortality due to excess hormones; however, they have also led to an increase in mortality from malignancy, particularly NETs. The main challenges are to localize these tumors, to select those that need therapy because of the risk of aggressive behavior and to select the appropriate therapy associated with minimal morbidity. This must be applied to a hereditary disease with a high risk of recurrence. The overall aim of management in MEN1 is to ensure that the patient remains disease- and symptom-free for as long as possible and maintains a good quality of life. Herein, we review the changes that occurred in the last 20 years in the surgical management of MEN1-associated functional and non-functional pancreatico-duodenal NETs and thymic and bronchial NETs.