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Eric Ueda, Ugur Ozerdem, Yen-Hao Chen, Min Yao, Kuang Tzu Huang, Huiqin Sun, Manuela Martins-Green, Paolo Bartolini, and Ameae M Walker

S179D prolactin (PRL) is an experimentally useful mimic of naturally phosphorylated human prolactin. S179D PRL, but not unmodified PRL, was found to be anti-angiogenic in both the chorioallantoic membrane and corneal assays. Further investigation using human endothelial in vitro models showed reduced cell number, reduced tubule formation in Matrigel, and reduced migration and invasion, as a function of treatment with S179D PRL. Analysis of growth factors in human endothelial cells in response to S179D PRL showed: a decreased expression or release of endogenous PRL, heme-oxygenase-1, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), angiogenin, epidermal growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor; and an increased expression of inhibitors of matrix metalloproteases. S179D PRL also blocked signaling from bFGF in these cells. We conclude that this molecular mimic of a pituitary hormone is a potent anti-angiogenic protein, partly as a result of its ability to reduce utilization of several well-established endothelial autocrine growth loops, partly by its ability to block signaling from bFGF and partly because of its ability to decrease endothelial migration. These findings suggest that circulating levels of phosphorylated PRL may influence the progression of cancer and, furthermore, that S179D PRL may be a useful anti-angiogenic therapeutic.

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Rafael Ríos, Carmen Belén Lupiañez, Daniele Campa, Alessandro Martino, Joaquin Martínez-López, Manuel Martínez-Bueno, Judit Varkonyi, Ramón García-Sanz, Krzysztof Jamroziak, Charles Dumontet, Andrés Jerez Cayuela, Marzena Wętek, Stephano Landi, Anna Maria Rossi, Fabienne Lesueur, Rui Manuel Reis, Victor Moreno, Herlander Marques, Artur Jurczyszyn, Vibeke Andersen, Ulla Vogel, Gabriele Buda, Enrico Orciuolo, Svend E H Jacobsen, Mario Petrini, Annette J Vangsted, Federica Gemignani, Federico Canzian, Manuel Jurado, and Juan Sainz

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) has been suggested to be a risk factor for multiple myeloma (MM), but the relationship between the two traits is still not well understood. The aims of this study were to evaluate whether 58 genome-wide-association-studies (GWAS)-identified common variants for T2D influence the risk of developing MM and to determine whether predictive models built with these variants might help to predict the disease risk. We conducted a case–control study including 1420 MM patients and 1858 controls ascertained through the International Multiple Myeloma (IMMEnSE) consortium. Subjects carrying the KCNQ1rs2237892T allele or the CDKN2A-2Brs2383208G/G, IGF1rs35767T/T and MADDrs7944584T/T genotypes had a significantly increased risk of MM (odds ratio (OR)=1.32–2.13) whereas those carrying the KCNJ11rs5215C, KCNJ11rs5219T and THADArs7578597C alleles or the FTOrs8050136A/A and LTArs1041981C/C genotypes showed a significantly decreased risk of developing the disease (OR=0.76–0.85). Interestingly, a prediction model including those T2D-related variants associated with the risk of MM showed a significantly improved discriminatory ability to predict the disease when compared to a model without genetic information (area under the curve (AUC)=0.645 vs AUC=0.629; P=4.05×1006). A gender-stratified analysis also revealed a significant gender effect modification for ADAM30rs2641348 and NOTCH2rs10923931 variants (Pinteraction=0.001 and 0.0004, respectively). Men carrying the ADAM30rs2641348C and NOTCH2rs10923931T alleles had a significantly decreased risk of MM whereas an opposite but not significant effect was observed in women (ORM=0.71 and ORM=0.66 vs ORW=1.22 and ORW=1.15, respectively). These results suggest that TD2-related variants may influence the risk of developing MM and their genotyping might help to improve MM risk prediction models.

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Toru Tateno, Tae Nakano-Tateno, Shereen Ezzat, and Sylvia L Asa

The proteoglycan neuron-glial antigen 2 (NG2) is expressed by oligodendrocyte progenitors, pericytes, and some cancerous cells where it is implicated in tumor development. We examined mice with NG2-driven pRb inactivation. Unexpectedly, NG2-Cre:pRb flox/flox mice developed pituitary tumors with high penetrance. Adenohypophysial neoplasms developed initially as multifocal lesions; by 1 year, large tumors showed brain invasion. Immunohistochemistry identified these as Pit1-lineage neoplasms, with variable immunoreactivity for growth hormone, prolactin, thyrotropin, and α-subunit of glycoprotein hormones. Other than modest hyperprolactinemia, circulating hormone levels were not elevated. To determine the role of NG2 in the pituitary, we investigated NG2 expression. Immunoreactivity was identified in anterior and posterior lobes but not in the intermediate lobe of the mouse pituitary; in the adenohypophysis, folliculostellate cells had the strongest NG2 immunoreactivity but showed no proliferation in response to Rb inactivation. Pit1-positive adenohypophysial cells were positive for NG2, but corticotroph and gonadotroph cells were negative. RT-PCR revealed NG2 expression in normal human pituitary and human pituitary tumors; immunohistochemistry localized NG2 in nontumorous human adenohypophysis with strongest positivity in folliculostellate cells, and in tumors of all types except corticotrophs. Functional studies in GH4 mammosomatotrophs showed that NG2 increases prolactin (PRL), reduces growth hormone (GH) expression, and enhances cell adhesion without influencing proliferation. In conclusion, NG2-driven pRb inactivation results in pituitary tumors that mimic endocrinologically inactive Pit1-lineage human pituitary tumors. This model identifies a role for NG2 in pituitary cell-type-specific functions and unmasks a protective role from Rb inactivation in folliculostellate cells; it can be used for further research, including preclinical testing of novel therapies.

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Giovanna Maria Pierantoni, Palma Finelli, Emanuele Valtorta, Daniela Giardino, Ornella Rodeschini, Francesco Esposito, Marco Losa, Alfredo Fusco, and Lidia Larizza

The high-mobility group A2 (HMGA2) gene has a critical role in benign tumors where it is frequently rearranged, and in malignant tumors, where it is overexpressed in the absence of structural modification of the HMGA2 locus. By previous fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and reverse transcriptase PCR analyses on human prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas we detected rearrangement of the HMGA2 gene and amplification of its native region associated with activated expression. These data indicated a role for the HMGA2 gene in the development of human pituitary prolactinomas, since they are consistent with the appearance of prolactin/growth hormone adenomas in transgenic mice overexpressing the HMGA2 gene. To assess a more general role for HMGA2 in pituitary oncogenesis, we investigated HMGA2 amplification and expression in a panel of non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs) which account for 25% of all pituitary adenomas. We provide evidence that out of 18 NFPA tumors tested, 12 expressed HMGA2, but, different from prolactinomas, only in two cases the upregulation of the gene could be associated with amplification and/or rearrangement of the HMGA2 locus. Increased dosage of chromosome 12 was found in the expressing and non-expressing NFPAs, confirming that this sole event is insufficient to drive up activation of the HMGA2 gene. A role for chromosome 12 polysomy to promote structural instability of HMGA2 is confirmed, but the mechanism via trisomy is less prevalent in the frequently diploid NFPAs than in the usually hyperdiploid prolactinomas. Micro-rearrangements of HMGA2 gene not detectable by FISH analysis and/or sequence alterations could contribute to upregulation of HMGA2 gene in pituitary adenomas of the NFPA subtype. However, it cannot be excluded that the HMGA2 overexpression may be due, in some NFPA patients, to the same, still mainly unknown, mechanisms responsible for HMGA2 overexpression in malignant neoplasias.

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Antônio Ribeiro-Oliveira Jr, Giulia Franchi, Blerina Kola, Paolo Dalino, Sérgio Veloso Brant Pinheiro, Nabila Salahuddin, Madalina Musat, Miklós I Góth, Sándor Czirják, Zoltán Hanzély, Deivid Augusto da Silva, Eduardo Paulino Jr, Ashley B Grossman, and Márta Korbonits

The molecular analysis of pituitary tumours has received a great deal of attention, although the majority of studies have concentrated on the genome and the transcriptome. We aimed to study the proteome of human pituitary adenomas. A protein array using 1005 monoclonal antibodies was used to study GH-, corticotrophin- and prolactin-secreting as well as non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs). Individual protein expression levels in the tumours were compared with the expression profile of normal pituitary tissue. Out of 316 proteins that were detected in the pituitary tissue samples, 116 proteins had not previously been described in human pituitary tissue. Four prominent differentially expressed proteins with potential importance to tumorigenesis were chosen for validation by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. In the protein array analysis heat shock protein 110 (HSP110), a chaperone associated with protein folding, and B2 bradykinin receptor, a potential regulator of prolactin secretion, were significantly overexpressed in all adenoma subtypes, while C-terminal Src kinase (CSK), an inhibitor of proto-oncogenic enzymes, and annexin II, a calcium-dependent binding protein, were significantly underexpressed in all adenoma subtypes. The immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the overexpression of HSP110 and B2 bradykinin receptor and underexpression of CSK and annexin II in pituitary adenoma cells when compared with their corresponding normal pituitary cells. Western blotting only partially confirmed the proteomics data: HSP110 was significantly overexpressed in prolactinomas and NFPAs, the B2 bradykinin receptor was significantly overexpressed in prolactinomas, annexin II was significantly underexpressed in somatotrophinomas, while CSK did not show significant underexpression in any tumour. Protein expression analysis of pituitary samples disclosed both novel proteins and putative protein candidates for pituitary tumorigenesis, though validation using conventional techniques are necessary to confirm the protein array data.

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Yu-fang Bi, Rui-xin Liu, Lei Ye, Hai Fang, Xiao-ying Li, Wei-qing Wang, Ji Zhang, Kan-Kan Wang, Lei Jiang, Ting-wei Su, Zhong-yuan Chen, and Guang Ning

Although there has been increased knowledge about the molecular biology of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), little is known about thymic carcinoids and even less about those with excessive hormone disorders, such as ectopic ACTH syndrome. This study was designed to gain insights into the molecular networks underlying the tumorigenesis of thymic carcinoids with ACTH secretion. By an approach integrating cDNA microarray and methods of computational biology, we compare gene expression profile between ACTH-producing thymic carcinoids and the normal thymus. In total, there are 63 biological categories increased and 108 decreased in thymic carcinoids. Cell proliferation was stimulated, which may explain the relatively uncontrolled cell growth of the tumor. Dysregulation of the Notch-signaling pathway was likely to be underlying the neuroendocrine features of this type of tumors. Moreover, inhibition of immunity and increased neuropeptide signaling molecules (POMC and its sorting molecule CPE) made the clinical manifestation reasonable and thus validated the array data. In conclusion, thymic carcinoids have a distinct gene expression pattern from the normal thymus, and they are characterized by deregulations of a series of biofunctions, which may be involved in the development of NETs. Hence, this study has provided not only a detailed comprehension of the molecular pathogenesis of thymic carcinoids with ectopic ACTH syndrome, but also a road map to approach thymic NETs at the system level.

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Fazlul H Sarkar, Yiwei Li, Zhiwei Wang, and Dejuan Kong

Among many endocrine-related cancers, prostate cancer (PCa) is the most frequent male malignancy, and it is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in men in the United States. Therefore, this review focuses on summarizing the knowledge of molecular signaling pathways in PCa because, in order to better design new preventive strategies for the fight against PCa, documentation of the knowledge on the pathogenesis of PCa at the molecular level is very important. Cancer cells are known to have alterations in multiple cellular signaling pathways; indeed, the development and the progression of PCa are known to be caused by the deregulation of several selective signaling pathways such as the androgen receptor, Akt, nuclear factor-κB, Wnt, Hedgehog, and Notch. Therefore, strategies targeting these important pathways and their upstream and downstream signaling could be promising for the prevention of PCa progression. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge regarding the alterations in cell signaling pathways during the development and progression of PCa, and document compelling evidence showing that these are the targets of several natural agents against PCa progression and its metastases.

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Maria Theresa E Montales, Stepan B Melnyk, Shi J Liu, Frank A Simmen, Y Lucy Liu, and Rosalia C M Simmen

The emerging links between breast cancer and metabolic dysfunctions brought forth by the obesity pandemic predict a disproportionate early disease onset in successive generations. Moreover, sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents may be influenced by the patient’s metabolic status that affects the disease outcome. Maternal metabolic stress as a determinant of drug response in progeny is not well defined. Here, we evaluated mammary tumor response to doxorubicin in female mouse mammary tumor virus–Wnt1 transgenic offspring exposed to a metabolically compromised environment imposed by maternal high-fat diet. Control progeny were from dams consuming diets with regular fat content. Maternal high-fat diet exposure increased tumor incidence and reduced tumor latency but did not affect tumor volume response to doxorubicin, compared with control diet exposure. However, doxorubicin-treated tumors from high-fat-diet-exposed offspring demonstrated higher proliferation status (Ki-67), mammary stem cell-associated gene expression (Notch1 , Aldh1) and basal stem cell-like (CD29hiCD24+) epithelial subpopulation frequencies, than tumors from control diet progeny. Notably, all epithelial subpopulations (CD29hiCD24+, CD29loCD24+, CD29hiCD24+Thy1+) in tumors from high-fat-diet-exposed offspring were refractory to doxorubicin. Further, sera from high-fat-diet-exposed offspring promoted sphere formation of mouse mammary tumor epithelial cells and of human MCF7 cells. Untargeted metabolomics analyses identified higher levels of kynurenine and 2-hydroxyglutarate in plasma of high-fat diet than control diet offspring. Kynurenine/doxorubicin co-treatment of MCF7 cells enhanced the ability to form mammosphere and decreased apoptosis, relative to doxorubicin-only-treated cells. Maternal metabolic dysfunctions during pregnancy and lactation may be targeted to reduce breast cancer risk and improve early drug response in progeny, and may inform clinical management of disease.

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Ines Donangelo, Song-Guang Ren, Tamar Eigler, Clive Svendsen, and Shlomo Melmed

The role of tumor stem cells in benign tumors such as pituitary adenomas remains unclear. In this study, we investigated whether the cells within pituitary adenomas that spontaneously develop in Rb + /− mice are hierarchically distributed with a subset being responsible for tumor growth. Cells derived directly from such tumors grew as spheres in serum-free culture medium supplemented with epidermal growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor. Some cells within growing pituitary tumor spheres (PTS) expressed common stem cell markers (Sca1, Sox2, Nestin, and CD133), but were devoid of hormone-positive differentiated cells. Under subsequent differentiating conditions (matrigel-coated growth surface), PTS expressed all six pituitary hormones. We next searched for specific markers of the stem cell population and isolated a Sca1+ cell population that showed increased sphere formation potential, lower mRNA hormone expression, higher expression of stem cell markers (Notch1, Sox2, and Nestin), and increased proliferation rates. When transplanted into non-obese diabetic-severe combined immunodeficiency gamma mice brains, Sca1+ pituitary tumor cells exhibited higher rates of tumor formation (brain tumors observed in 11/11 (100%) vs 7/12 (54%) of mice transplanted with Sca1+ and Sca1 cells respectively). Magnetic resonance imaging and histological analysis of brain tumors showed that tumors derived from Sca1+ pituitary tumor cells were also larger and plurihormonal. Our findings show that Sca1+ cells derived from benign pituitary tumors exhibit an undifferentiated expression profile and tumor-proliferative advantages, and we propose that they could represent putative pituitary tumor stem/progenitor cells.

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Dario Palmieri, Teresa Valentino, Ivana De Martino, Francesco Esposito, Paolo Cappabianca, Anne Wierinckx, Michela Vitiello, Gaetano Lombardi, Annamaria Colao, Jacqueline Trouillas, Giovanna Maria Pierantoni, Alfredo Fusco, and Monica Fedele

We have previously demonstrated that HMGA1B and HMGA2 overexpression in mice induces the development of GH and prolactin (PRL) pituitary adenomas mainly by increasing E2F1 transcriptional activity. Interestingly, these adenomas showed very high expression levels of PIT1, a transcriptional factor that regulates the gene expression of Gh, Prl, Ghrhr and Pit1 itself, playing a key role in pituitary gland development and physiology. Therefore, the aim of our study was to identify the role of Pit1 overexpression in pituitary tumour development induced by HMGA1B and HMGA2. First, we demonstrated that HMGA1B and HMGA2 directly interact with both PIT1 and its gene promoter in vivo, and that these proteins positively regulate Pit1 promoter activity, also co-operating with PIT1 itself. Subsequently, we showed, by colony-forming assays on two different pituitary adenoma cell lines, GH3 and αT3, that Pit1 overexpression increases pituitary cell proliferation. Finally, the expression analysis of HMGA1, HMGA2 and PIT1 in human pituitary adenomas of different histological types revealed a direct correlation between PIT1 and HMGA expression levels. Taken together, our data indicate a role of Pit1 upregulation by HMGA proteins in pituitary tumours.