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Maya B Lodish, Urania Dagalakis, Ninet Sinaii, Ethan Bornstein, AeRang Kim, Kelsey B Lokie, Andrea M Baldwin, James C Reynolds, Eva Dombi, Constantine A Stratakis, and Brigitte C Widemann

Concern for impaired bone health in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF-1) has led to increased interest in bone densitometry in this population. Our study assessed bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) and whole-body bone mineral content (BMC)/height in pediatric patients with NF-1 with a high plexiform neurofibroma burden. Sixty-nine patients with NF-1 (age range 5.2–24.8; mean 13.7±4.8 years) were studied. Hologic dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans (Hologic, Inc., Bedford, MA, USA) were performed on all patients. BMD was normalized to derive a reference volume by correcting for height through the use of the BMAD, as well as the BMC. BMAD of the lumbar spine (LS 2–4), femoral neck (FN), and total body BMC/height were measured and Z-scores were calculated. Impaired bone mineral density was defined as a Z-score ≤−2. Forty-seven percent of patients exhibited impaired bone mineral density at any bone site, with 36% at the LS, 18% at the FN, and 20% total BMC/height. BMAD Z-scores of the LS (−1.60±1.26) were more impaired compared with both the FN (−0.54±1.58; P=0.0003) and the whole-body BMC/height Z-scores (−1.16±0.90; P=0.036). Plexiform neurofibroma burden was negatively correlated with LS BMAD (r s=−0.36, P=0.01). In pediatric and young adult patients with NF-1, LS BMAD was more severely affected than the FN BMAD or whole-body BMC/height.

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Emmanouil Saloustros, Paraskevi Salpea, Matthew Starost, Sissi Liu, Fabio R Faucz, Edra London, Eva Szarek, Woo-Jin Song, Mehboob Hussain, and Constantine A Stratakis

Carney complex (CNC) is a rare disease associated with multiple neoplasias, including a predisposition to pancreatic tumors; it is caused most frequently by the inactivation of the PRKAR1A gene, a regulator of the cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent kinase (PKA). The method used was to create null alleles of prkar1a in mouse cells expressing pdx1 (Δ-Prkar1a). We found that these mice developed endocrine or mixed endocrine/acinar cell carcinomas with 100% penetrance by the age of 4–5 months. Malignant behavior of the tumors was seen as evidenced by stromal invasion and metastasis to locoregional lymph nodes. Histologically, most tumors exhibited an organoid pattern as seen in the islet-cell tumors. Biochemically, the lesions exhibited high PKA activity, as one would expect from deleting prkar1a. The primary neuroendocrine nature of these tumor cells was confirmed by immunohistochemical staining and electron microscopy, the latter revealing the characteristic granules. Although the Δ-Prkar1a mice developed hypoglycemia after overnight fasting, insulin and glucagon levels in the plasma were normal. Negative immunohistochemical staining for the most commonly produced peptides (insulin, c-peptide, glucagon, gastrin and somatostatin) suggested that these tumors were non-functioning. We hypothesize that the recently identified multipotent pdx1+/insulin− cell in adult pancreas, gives rise to endocrine or mixed endocrine/acinar pancreatic malignancies with complete prkar1a deficiency. In conclusion, this mouse model supports the role of prkar1a as a tumor suppressor gene in the pancreas and points to the PKA pathway as a possible therapeutic target for these lesions.

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Vladimir Vasilev, Adrian F Daly, Giampaolo Trivellin, Constantine A Stratakis, Sabina Zacharieva, and Albert Beckers

Familial isolated pituitary adenoma (FIPA) is one of the most frequent conditions associated with an inherited presentation of pituitary tumors. FIPA can present with pituitary adenomas of any secretory/non-secretory type. Mutations in the gene for the aryl-hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein (AIP) have been identified in approximately 20% of FIPA families and are the most frequent cause (29%) of pituitary gigantism. Pituitary tumors in FIPA are larger, occur at a younger age and display more aggressive characteristics and evolution than sporadic adenomas. This aggressiveness is especially marked in FIPA kindreds with AIP mutations. Special attention should be paid to young patients with pituitary gigantism and/or macroadenomas, as AIP mutations are prevalent in these groups. Duplications on chromosome Xq26.3 involving the gene GPR101 lead to X-linked acrogigantism (X-LAG), a syndrome of pituitary gigantism beginning in early childhood; three kindreds with X-LAG have presented in the setting of FIPA. Management of pituitary adenomas in the setting of FIPA, AIP mutations and GPR101 duplications is often more complex than in sporadic disease due to early onset disease, aggressive tumor growth and resistance to medical therapy.

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Rodrigo B de Alexandre, Anelia D Horvath, Eva Szarek, Allison D Manning, Leticia F Leal, Fabio Kardauke, Jonathan A Epstein, Dirce M Carraro, Fernando A Soares, Tatiyana V Apanasovich, Constantine A Stratakis, and Fabio R Faucz

We hypothesized that mutations that inactivate phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity and lead to increased cAMP and cyclic guanosine monophosphate levels may be associated with prostate cancer (PCa). We sequenced the entire PDE coding sequences in the DNA of 16 biopsy samples from PCa patients. Novel mutations were confirmed in the somatic or germline state by Sanger sequencing. Data were then compared to the 1000 Genome Project. PDE, CREB and pCREB protein expression was also studied in all samples, in both normal and abnormal tissue, by immunofluorescence. We identified three previously described PDE sequence variants that were significantly more frequent in PCa. Four novel sequence variations, one each in the PDE4B, PDE6C, PDE7B and PDE10A genes, respectively, were also found in the PCa samples. Interestingly, PDE10A and PDE4B novel variants that were present in 19 and 6% of the patients were found in the tumor tissue only. In patients carrying PDE defects, there was pCREB accumulation (P<0.001), and an increase of the pCREB:CREB ratio (patients 0.97±0.03; controls 0.52±0.03; P-value <0.001) by immunohistochemical analysis. We conclude that PDE sequence variants may play a role in the predisposition and/or progression to PCa at the germline and/or somatic state respectively.

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Paraskevi Xekouki, Spyridon A Mastroyiannis, Dimitrios Avgeropoulos, Maria de la Luz Sierra, Giampaolo Trivellin, Evgenia A Gourgari, Charalampos Lyssikatos, Martha Quezado, Nicholas Patronas, Christina Kanaka-Gantenbein, George P Chrousos, and Constantine A Stratakis

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Adrian F Daly, Philippe A Lysy, Céline Desfilles, Liliya Rostomyan, Amira Mohamed, Jean-Hubert Caberg, Veronique Raverot, Emilie Castermans, Etienne Marbaix, Dominique Maiter, Chloe Brunelle, Giampaolo Trivellin, Constantine A Stratakis, Vincent Bours, Christian Raftopoulos, Veronique Beauloye, Anne Barlier, and Albert Beckers

X-linked acrogigantism (X-LAG) syndrome is a newly described form of inheritable pituitary gigantism that begins in early childhood and is usually associated with markedly elevated GH and prolactin secretion by mixed pituitary adenomas/hyperplasia. Microduplications on chromosome Xq26.3 including the GPR101 gene cause X-LAG syndrome. In individual cases random GHRH levels have been elevated. We performed a series of hormonal profiles in a young female sporadic X-LAG syndrome patient and subsequently undertook in vitro studies of primary pituitary tumor culture following neurosurgical resection. The patient demonstrated consistently elevated circulating GHRH levels throughout preoperative testing, which was accompanied by marked GH and prolactin hypersecretion; GH demonstrated a paradoxical increase following TRH administration. In vitro, the pituitary cells showed baseline GH and prolactin release that was further stimulated by GHRH administration. Co-incubation with GHRH and the GHRH receptor antagonist, acetyl-(d-Arg2)-GHRH (1-29) amide, blocked the GHRH-induced GH stimulation; the GHRH receptor antagonist alone significantly reduced GH release. Pasireotide, but not octreotide, inhibited GH secretion. A ghrelin receptor agonist and an inverse agonist led to modest, statistically significant increases and decreases in GH secretion, respectively. GHRH hypersecretion can accompany the pituitary abnormalities seen in X-LAG syndrome. These data suggest that the pathology of X-LAG syndrome may include hypothalamic dysregulation of GHRH secretion, which is in keeping with localization of GPR101 in the hypothalamus. Therapeutic blockade of GHRH secretion could represent a way to target the marked hormonal hypersecretion and overgrowth that characterizes X-LAG syndrome.

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Anand Pathak, Douglas R Stewart, Fabio R Faucz, Paraskevi Xekouki, Sara Bass, Aurelie Vogt, Xijun Zhang, Joseph Boland, Meredith Yeager, Jennifer T Loud, Katherine L Nathanson, Katherine A McGlynn, Constantine A Stratakis, Mark H Greene, and Lisa Mirabello

Germline inactivating mutations of isoform 4 of phosphodiesterase (PDE) 11A (coded by the PDE11A gene) have been associated with familial adrenocortical tumors and familial testicular cancer. Testicular tissue is unique in expressing all four isoforms of PDE11A. In a prior candidate gene study of 94 familial testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) subjects, we identified a significant association between the presence of functionally abnormal variants in PDE11A and familial TGCT risk. To validate this novel observation, we sequenced the PDE11A coding region in 259 additional TGCT patients (both familial and sporadic) and 363 controls. We identified 55 PDE11A variants: 20 missense, four splice-site, two nonsense, seven synonymous, and 22 intronic. Ten missense variants were novel; nine occurred in transcript variant 4 and one in transcript variant 3. Five rare mutations (p.F258Y, p.G291R, p.V820M, p.R545X, and p.K568R) were present only in cases and were significantly more common in cases vs controls (P=0.0037). The latter two novel variants were functionally characterized and shown to be functionally inactivating, resulting in reduced PDE activity and increased cAMP levels. In further analysis of this cohort, we focused on white participants only to minimize confounding due to population stratification. This study builds upon our prior reports implicating PDE11A variants in familial TGCT, provides the first independent validation of those findings, extends that work to sporadic testicular cancer, demonstrates that these variants are uncommonly but reproducibly associated with TGCT, and refines our understanding regarding which specific inactivating PDE11A variants are most likely to be associated with TGCT risk.

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Paraskevi Xekouki, Michael M Hatch, Lin Lin, De Alexandre Rodrigo, Monalisa Azevedo, Maria de la Luz Sierra, Isaac Levy, Emmanouil Saloustros, Andreas Moraitis, Anelia Horvath, E Kebebew, Dax A Hoffman, and Constantine A Stratakis

KCNJ5 mutations were recently described in primary hyperaldosteronism (PH or Conn's syndrome). The frequency of these mutations in PH and the way KCNJ5 defects cause disease remain unknown. A total of 53 patients with PH have been seen at the National Institutes of Health over the last 12 years. Their peripheral and tumor DNAs (the latter from 16 that were operated) were screened for KCNJ5 mutations; functional studies on the identified defects were performed after transient transfection. Only two mutations were identified, and both in the tumor DNA only. There were no germline sequencing defects in any of the patients except for known synonymous variants of the KCNJ5 gene. One mutation was the previously described c.G451C alteration; the other was a novel one in the same codon: c.G451A; both lead to the same amino acid substitution (G151R) in the KCNJ5 protein. Functional studies confirmed previous findings that both mutations caused loss of channel selectivity and a positive shift in the reversal potential. In conclusion, the KCNJ5 protein was strongly expressed in the zona glomerulosa of normal adrenal glands but showed variable expression in the aldosterone-producing adenomas with and without mutation. The rate of KCNJ5 mutations among patients with PH and/or their tumors is substantially lower than what was previously reported. The G151R amino acid substitution appears to be the most frequent one so far detected in PH, despite additional nucleotide changes. The mutation causes loss of this potassium channel's selectivity and may assist in the design of new therapies for PH.

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Maya B Lodish, Karen T Adams, Thanh T Huynh, Tamara Prodanov, Alex Ling, Clara Chen, Suzanne Shusterman, Camilo Jimenez, Maria Merino, Marybeth Hughes, Kendall W Cradic, Dragana Milosevic, Ravinder J Singh, Constantine A Stratakis, and Karel Pacak

Organ of Zuckerkandl paragangliomas (PGLs) are rare neuroendocrine tumors that are derived from chromaffin cells located around the origin of the inferior mesenteric artery extending to the level of the aortic bifurcation. Mutations in the genes encoding succinate dehydrogenase subunits (SDH) B, C, and D (SDHx) have been associated with PGLs, but their contribution to PGLs of the organ of Zuckerkandl PGLs is not known. We aimed to describe the clinical presentation of patients with PGLs of the organ of Zuckerkandl and investigate the prevalence of SDHx mutations and other genetic defects among them. The clinical characteristics of 14 patients with PGL of the organ of Zuckerkandl were analyzed retrospectively; their DNA was tested for SDHx mutations and deletions. Eleven out of 14 (79%) patients with PGLs of the organ of Zuckerkandl were found to have mutations in the SDHB (9) or SDHD (2) genes; one patient was found to have the Carney–Stratakis syndrome (CSS), and his PGL was discovered during surgery for gastrointestinal stromal tumor. Our results show that SDHx mutations are prevalent in pediatric and adult PGLs of the organ of Zuckerkandl. Patients with PGLs of the organ of Zuckerkandl should be screened for SDHx mutations and the CSS; in addition, asymptomatic carriers of an SDHx mutation among the relatives of affected patients may benefit from tumor screening for early PGL detection.

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Sílvia F Sousa, Ricardo S Gomez, Marina G Diniz, Vanessa F Bernardes, Flávia F C Soares, João Artur R Brito, Sophie Liu, Hélder Antônio R Pontes, Constantine A Stratakis, and Carolina C Gomes

The surgical treatment of some odontogenic tumors often leads to tooth and maxillary bone loss as well as to facial deformity. Therefore, the identification of genes involved in the pathogenesis of odontogenic tumors may result in alternative molecular therapies. The PRKAR1A gene displays a loss of protein expression as well as somatic mutations in odontogenic myxomas, an odontogenic ectomesenchymal neoplasm. We used a combination of quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR), immunohistochemistry, loss of heterozygosity (LOH) analysis, and direct sequencing of all PRKAR1A exons to assess if this gene is altered in mixed odontogenic tumors. Thirteen tumors were included in the study: six ameloblastic fibromas, four ameloblastic fibro-odontomas, one ameloblastic fibrodentinoma, and two ameloblastic fibrosarcomas. The epithelial components of the tumors were separated from the mesenchymal by laser microdissection in most of the cases. We also searched for odontogenic pathology in Prkar1a + / mice. PRKAR1A mRNA/protein expression was decreased in the benign mixed odontogenic tumors in association with LOH at markers around the PRKAR1A gene. We also detected a missense and two synonymous mutations along with two 5′-UTR and four intronic mutations in mixed odontogenic tumors. Prkar1a + / mice did not show evidence of odontogenic tumor formation, which indicates that additional genes may be involved in the pathogenesis of such tumors, at least in rodents. We conclude that the PRKAR1A gene and its locus are altered in mixed odontogenic tumors. PRKAR1A expression is decreased in a subset of tumors but not in all, and Prkar1a + / mice do not show abnormalities, which indicates that additional genes play a role in this tumor's pathogenesis.