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Iulia Potorac, Patrick Petrossians, Adrian F Daly, Franck Schillo, Claude Ben Slama, Sonia Nagi, Mouna Sahnoun, Thierry Brue, Nadine Girard, Philippe Chanson, Ghaidaa Nasser, Philippe Caron, Fabrice Bonneville, Gérald Raverot, Véronique Lapras, François Cotton, Brigitte Delemer, Brigitte Higel, Anne Boulin, Stéphan Gaillard, Florina Luca, Bernard Goichot, Jean-Louis Dietemann, Albert Beckers, and Jean-François Bonneville

Responses of GH-secreting adenomas to multimodal management of acromegaly vary widely between patients. Understanding the behavioral patterns of GH-secreting adenomas by identifying factors predictive of their evolution is a research priority. The aim of this study was to clarify the relationship between the T2-weighted adenoma signal on diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in acromegaly and clinical and biological features at diagnosis. An international, multicenter, retrospective analysis was performed using a large population of 297 acromegalic patients recently diagnosed with available diagnostic MRI evaluations. The study was conducted at ten endocrine tertiary referral centers. Clinical and biochemical characteristics, and MRI signal findings were evaluated. T2-hypointense adenomas represented 52.9% of the series, were smaller than their T2-hyperintense and isointense counterparts (P<0.0001), were associated with higher IGF1 levels (P=0.0001), invaded the cavernous sinus less frequently (P=0.0002), and rarely caused optic chiasm compression (P<0.0001). Acromegalic men tended to be younger at diagnosis than women (P=0.067) and presented higher IGF1 values (P=0.01). Although in total, adenomas had a predominantly inferior extension in 45.8% of cases, in men this was more frequent (P<0.0001), whereas in women optic chiasm compression of macroadenomas occurred more often (P=0.0067). Most adenomas (45.1%) measured between 11 and 20 mm in maximal diameter and bigger adenomas were diagnosed at younger ages (P=0.0001). The T2-weighted signal differentiates GH-secreting adenomas into subgroups with particular behaviors. This raises the question of whether the T2-weighted signal could represent a factor in the classification of acromegalic patients in future studies.

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Lautaro Zubeldía-Brenner, Catalina De Winne, Sofía Perrone, Santiago A Rodríguez-Seguí, Christophe Willems, Ana María Ornstein, Isabel Lacau-Mengido, Hugo Vankelecom, Carolina Cristina, and Damasia Becu-Villalobos

Preclinical and clinical studies support that Notch signaling may play an important oncogenic role in cancer, but there is scarce information for pituitary tumors. We therefore undertook a functional study to evaluate Notch participation in pituitary adenoma growth. Tumors generated in Nude mice by subcutaneous GH3 somatolactotrope cell injection were treated in vivo with DAPT, a γ-secretase inhibitor, thus inactivating Notch signaling. This treatment led to pituitary tumor reduction, lower prolactin and GH tumor content and a decrease in angiogenesis. Furthermore, in silico transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses uncovered several tumor suppressor genes related to Notch signaling in pituitary tissue, namely Btg2, Nr4a1, Men1, Zfp36 and Cnot1. Gene evaluation suggested that Btg2, Nr4a1 and Cnot1 may be possible players in GH3 xenograft growth. Btg2 mRNA expression was lower in GH3 tumors compared to the parental line, and DAPT increased its expression levels in the tumor in parallel with the inhibition of its volume. Cnot1 mRNA levels were also increased in the pituitary xenografts by DAPT treatment. And the Nr4a1 gene was lower in tumors compared to the parental line, though not modified by DAPT. Finally, because DAPT in vivo may also be acting on tumor microenvironment, we determined the direct effect of DAPT on GH3 cells in vitro. We found that DAPT decreases the proliferative, secretory and migration potential of GH3 cells. These results position selective interruption of Notch signaling as a potential therapeutic tool in adjuvant treatments for aggressive or resistant pituitary tumors.

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Maria A Tichomirowa, Misu Lee, Anne Barlier, Adrian F Daly, Ilaria Marinoni, Marie-Lise Jaffrain-Rea, Luciana A Naves, Patrice Rodien, Vincent Rohmer, Fabio Rueda Faucz, Philippe Caron, Bruno Estour, Pierre Lecomte, Françoise Borson-Chazot, Alfred Penfornis, Maria Yaneva, Mirtha Guitelman, Emily Castermans, Catherine Verhaege, Jean-Louis Wémeau, Antoine Tabarin, Carmen Fajardo Montañana, Brigitte Delemer, Veronique Kerlan, Jean-Louis Sadoul, Christine Cortet Rudelli, Françoise Archambeaud, Sabine Zacharieva, Marily Theodoropoulou, Thierry Brue, Alain Enjalbert, Vincent Bours, Natalia S Pellegata, and Albert Beckers

Familial isolated pituitary adenoma (FIPA) occurs in families and is unrelated to multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 and Carney complex. Mutations in AIP account only for 15–25% of FIPA families. CDKN1B mutations cause MEN4 in which affected patients can suffer from pituitary adenomas. With this study, we wanted to assess whether mutations in CDKN1B occur among a large cohort of AIP mutation-negative FIPA kindreds. Eighty-eight AIP mutation-negative FIPA families were studied and 124 affected subjects underwent sequencing of CDKN1B. Functional analysis of putative CDKN1B mutations was performed using in silico and in vitro approaches. Germline CDKN1B analysis revealed two nucleotide changes: c.286A>C (p.K96Q) and c.356T>C (p.I119T). In vitro, the K96Q change decreased p27 affinity for Grb2 but did not segregate with pituitary adenoma in the FIPA kindred. The I119T substitution occurred in a female patient with acromegaly. p27I119T shows an abnormal migration pattern by SDS–PAGE. Three variants (p.S56T, p.T142T, and c.605+36C>T) are likely nonpathogenic because In vitro effects were not seen. In conclusion, two patients had germline sequence changes in CDKN1B, which led to functional alterations in the encoded p27 proteins in vitro. Such rare CDKN1B variants may contribute to the development of pituitary adenomas, but their low incidence and lack of clear segregation with affected patients make CDKN1B sequencing unlikely to be of use in routine genetic investigation of FIPA kindreds. However, further characterization of the role of CDKN1B in pituitary tumorigenesis in these and other cases could help clarify the clinicopathological profile of MEN4.

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Fabio R Faucz, Anelia D Horvath, Monalisa F Azevedo, Isaac Levy, Beata Bak, Ying Wang, Paraskevi Xekouki, Eva Szarek, Evgenia Gourgari, Allison D Manning, Rodrigo Bertollo de Alexandre, Emmanouil Saloustros, Giampaolo Trivellin, Maya Lodish, Paul Hofman, Yvonne C Anderson, Ian Holdaway, Edward Oldfield, Prashant Chittiboina, Maria Nesterova, Nienke R Biermasz, Jan M Wit, Daniel J Bernard, and Constantine A Stratakis

IGSF1 is a membrane glycoprotein highly expressed in the anterior pituitary. Pathogenic mutations in the IGSF1 gene (on Xq26.2) are associated with X-linked central hypothyroidism and testicular enlargement in males. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that IGSF1 is involved in the development of pituitary tumors, especially those that produce growth hormone (GH). IGSF1 was sequenced in 21 patients with gigantism or acromegaly and 92 healthy individuals. Expression studies with a candidate pathogenic IGSF1 variant were carried out in transfected cells and immunohistochemistry for IGSF1 was performed in the sections of GH-producing adenomas, familial somatomammotroph hyperplasia, and in normal pituitary. We identified the sequence variant p.N604T, which in silico analysis suggested could affect IGSF1 function, in two male patients and one female with somatomammotroph hyperplasia from the same family. Of 60 female controls, two carried the same variant and seven were heterozygous for other variants. Immunohistochemistry showed increased IGSF1 staining in the GH-producing tumor from the patient with the IGSF1 p.N604T variant compared with a GH-producing adenoma from a patient negative for any IGSF1 variants and with normal control pituitary tissue. The IGSF1 gene appears polymorphic in the general population. A potentially pathogenic variant identified in the germline of three patients with gigantism from the same family (segregating with the disease) was also detected in two healthy female controls. Variations in IGSF1 expression in pituitary tissue in patients with or without IGSF1 germline mutations point to the need for further studies of IGSF1 action in pituitary adenoma formation.

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Adrian F Daly, Bo Yuan, Frederic Fina, Jean-Hubert Caberg, Giampaolo Trivellin, Liliya Rostomyan, Wouter W de Herder, Luciana A Naves, Daniel Metzger, Thomas Cuny, Wolfgang Rabl, Nalini Shah, Marie-Lise Jaffrain-Rea, Maria Chiara Zatelli, Fabio R Faucz, Emilie Castermans, Isabelle Nanni-Metellus, Maya Lodish, Ammar Muhammad, Leonor Palmeira, Iulia Potorac, Giovanna Mantovani, Sebastian J Neggers, Marc Klein, Anne Barlier, Pengfei Liu, L’Houcine Ouafik, Vincent Bours, James R Lupski, Constantine A Stratakis, and Albert Beckers

Somatic mosaicism has been implicated as a causative mechanism in a number of genetic and genomic disorders. X-linked acrogigantism (XLAG) syndrome is a recently characterized genomic form of pediatric gigantism due to aggressive pituitary tumors that is caused by submicroscopic chromosome Xq26.3 duplications that include GPR101. We studied XLAG syndrome patients (n = 18) to determine if somatic mosaicism contributed to the genomic pathophysiology. Eighteen subjects with XLAG syndrome caused by Xq26.3 duplications were identified using high-definition array comparative genomic hybridization (HD-aCGH). We noted that males with XLAG had a decreased log2 ratio (LR) compared with expected values, suggesting potential mosaicism, whereas females showed no such decrease. Compared with familial male XLAG cases, sporadic males had more marked evidence for mosaicism, with levels of Xq26.3 duplication between 16.1 and 53.8%. These characteristics were replicated using a novel, personalized breakpoint junction-specific quantification droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) technique. Using a separate ddPCR technique, we studied the feasibility of identifying XLAG syndrome cases in a distinct patient population of 64 unrelated subjects with acromegaly/gigantism, and identified one female gigantism patient who had had increased copy number variation (CNV) threshold for GPR101 that was subsequently diagnosed as having XLAG syndrome on HD-aCGH. Employing a combination of HD-aCGH and novel ddPCR approaches, we have demonstrated, for the first time, that XLAG syndrome can be caused by variable degrees of somatic mosaicism for duplications at chromosome Xq26.3. Somatic mosaicism was shown to occur in sporadic males but not in females with XLAG syndrome, although the clinical characteristics of the disease were similarly severe in both sexes.

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E Ferrante, C Pellegrini, S Bondioni, E Peverelli, M Locatelli, P Gelmini, P Luciani, A Peri, G Mantovani, S Bosari, P Beck-Peccoz, A Spada, and A Lania

Somatostatin analogs currently used in the treatment of acromegaly and other neuroendocrine tumors inhibit hormone secretion and cell proliferation by binding to somatostatin receptor type (SST) 2 and 5. The antiproliferative pathways coupled to these receptors have been only partially characterized. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of octreotide and super selective SST2 (BIM23120) and SST5 (BIM23206) analogs on apoptotic activity and apoptotic gene expression in human somatotroph tumor cells. Eight somatotroph tumors expressing similar levels of SST2 and SST5 evaluated by real-time PCR and western blot analyses were included in the study. In cultured cells obtained from these tumors, octreotide induced a dose-dependent increase of caspase-3 activity (160 ± 20% vs basal at 10 nM) and cleaved cytokeratin 18 levels (172 ± 25% vs basal) at concentrations higher than 0.1 nM. This effect was due to SST2 activation since BIM23120 elicited comparable responses, while BIM23206 was ineffective. BIM23120-stimulated apoptosis was dependent on phosphatases, since it was abrogated by the inhibitor orthovanadate, and independent from the induction of apoptosis-related genes, such as p53, p63, p73, Bcl-2, Bax, BID, BIK, TNFSF8, and FADD. In somatotroph tumors, both BIM23120 and BIM2306 caused growth arrest as indicated by the increase in p27 and decrease in cyclin D1 expression. In conclusion, the present study showed that octreotide-induced apoptosis in human somatotroph tumor cells by activating SST2. This effect, together with the cytostatic action exerted by both SST2 and SST5 analogs, might account for the tumor shrinkage observed in acromegalic patients treated with long-acting somatostatin analogs.

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Gerard A Tarulli, Lisa M Butler, Wayne D Tilley, and Theresa E Hickey

While it has been known for decades that androgen hormones influence normal breast development and breast carcinogenesis, the underlying mechanisms have only been recently elucidated. To date, most studies have focused on androgen action in breast cancer cell lines, yet these studies represent artificial systems that often do not faithfully replicate/recapitulate the cellular, molecular and hormonal environments of breast tumours in vivo. It is critical to have a better understanding of how androgens act in the normal mammary gland as well as in in vivo systems that maintain a relevant tumour microenvironment to gain insights into the role of androgens in the modulation of breast cancer development. This in turn will facilitate application of androgen-modulation therapy in breast cancer. This is particularly relevant as current clinical trials focus on inhibiting androgen action as breast cancer therapy but, depending on the steroid receptor profile of the tumour, certain individuals may be better served by selectively stimulating androgen action. Androgen receptor (AR) protein is primarily expressed by the hormone-sensing compartment of normal breast epithelium, commonly referred to as oestrogen receptor alpha (ERa (ESR1))-positive breast epithelial cells, which also express progesterone receptors (PRs) and prolactin receptors and exert powerful developmental influences on adjacent breast epithelial cells. Recent lineage-tracing studies, particularly those focussed on NOTCH signalling, and genetic analysis of cancer risk in the normal breast highlight how signalling via the hormone-sensing compartment can influence normal breast development and breast cancer susceptibility. This provides an impetus to focus on the relationship between androgens, AR and NOTCH signalling and the crosstalk between ERa and PR signalling in the hormone-sensing component of breast epithelium in order to unravel the mechanisms behind the ability of androgens to modulate breast cancer initiation and growth.

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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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Annamaria Colao, Carolina Di Somma, Rosario Pivonello, Antongiulio Faggiano, Gaetano Lombardi, and Silvia Savastano

Surgery is the first-line treatment of patients with clinically non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFAs). Because of lack of clinical syndrome these tumours are diagnosed with a variable delay, when patients suffer from compression symptoms (hypopituitarism, headache and visual field defects) due to the extension of the tumour outside the pituitary fossa. Surgery is followed by residual tumour tissue in most patients. In these cases, radiotherapy is generally used to prevent tumour regrowth. However, NFA cell membranes, in analogy with GH- and PRL-secreting adenomas, express somatostatin and dopamine receptors. Treatment with somatostatin analogues (SSA) and dopamine agonists (DA) induced some beneficial effects on visual field defects and was also followed by tumour shrinkage in a minority of cases. DA seem to be more effective on tumour shrinkage than SSA. More recently, a combination treatment with both SSA and DA have been tested in a few patients with interesting results. Lack of randomized, placebo-controlled trials prevents any conclusion on the efficacy of these drugs. By contrast, use of gonatotrophin-releasing hormone analogues has been abandoned.

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María Andrea Camilletti, Alejandra Abeledo-Machado, Pablo A Perez, Erika Y Faraoni, Fernanda De Fino, Susana B Rulli, Jimena Ferraris, Daniel Pisera, Silvina Gutierrez, Peter Thomas, and Graciela Díaz-Torga

Membrane progesterone receptors are known to mediate rapid nongenomic progesterone effects in different cell types. Recent evidence revealed that mPRα is highly expressed in the rat pituitary, being primarily localized in lactotrophs, acting as an intermediary of P4-inhibitory actions on prolactin secretion. The role of mPRs in prolactinoma development remains unclear. We hypothesize that mPR agonists represent a novel tool for hyperprolactinemia treatment. To this end, pituitary expression of mPRs was studied in three animal models of prolactinoma. Expression of mPRs and nuclear receptor was significantly decreased in tumoral pituitaries compared to normal ones. However, the relative proportion of mPRα and mPRβ was highly increased in prolactinomas. Interestingly, the selective mPR agonist (Org OD 02-0) significantly inhibited PRL release in both normal and tumoral pituitary explants, displaying a more pronounced effect in tumoral tissues. As P4 also regulates PRL secretion indirectly, by acting on dopaminergic neurons, we studied mPR involvement in this effect. We found that the hypothalamus has a high expression of mPRs. Interestingly, both P4 and OrgOD 02-0 increased dopamine release in hypothalamus explants. Moreover, in an in vivo treatment, that allows both, pituitary and hypothalamus actions, the mPR agonist strongly reduced the hyperprolactinemia in transgenic females carrying prolactinoma. Finally, we also found and interesting gender difference: males express higher levels of pituitary mPRα/β, a sex that does not develop prolactinoma in these mice models. Taken together, these findings suggest mPRs activation could represent a novel tool for hyperprolactinemic patients, especially those that present resistance to dopaminergic drugs.