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Cuong V Duong, Richard D Emes, Frank Wessely, Kiren Yacqub-Usman, Richard N Clayton, and William E Farrell

DNA methylation is one of the several epigenetic modifications that together with genetic aberrations are hallmarks of tumorigenesis including those emanating from the pituitary gland. In this study, we examined DNA methylation across 27 578 CpG sites spanning more than 14 000 genes in the major pituitary adenoma subtypes. Genome-wide changes were first determined in a discovery cohort comprising non-functioning (NF), growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL)-secreting and corticotroph (CT) adenoma relative to post-mortem pituitaries. Using stringent cut-off criteria, we validated increased methylation by pyrosequencing in 12 of 16 (75%) genes. Overall, these criteria identified 40 genes in NF, 21 in GH, six in PRL and two in CT that were differentially methylated relative to controls. In a larger independent cohort of adenomas, for genes in which hypermethylation had been validated, different frequencies of hypermethylation were apparent, where the KIAA1822 (HHIPL1) and TFAP2E genes were hypermethylated in 12 of 13 NF adenomas whereas the COL1A2 gene showed an increase in two of 13 adenomas. For genes showing differential methylation across and between adenoma subtypes, pyrosequencing confirmed these findings. In three of 12 genes investigated, an inverse relationship between methylation and transcript expression was observed where increased methylation of EML2, RHOD and HOXB1 is associated with significantly reduced transcript expression. This study provides the first genome-wide survey of adenoma, subtype-specific epigenomic changes and will prove useful for identification of biomarkers that perhaps predict or characterise growth patterns. The functional characterisation of identified genes will also provide insight of tumour aetiology and identification of new therapeutic targets.

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Päivi Järvensivu, Taija Heinosalo, Janne Hakkarainen, Pauliina Kronqvist, Niina Saarinen, and Matti Poutanen

Hydroxysteroid (17-beta) dehydrogenase type 1 (HSD17B1) converts low-active estrogen estrone to highly active estradiol. Estradiol is necessary for normal postpubertal mammary gland development; however, elevated estradiol levels increase mammary tumorigenesis. To investigate the significance of the human HSD17B1 enzyme in the mammary gland, transgenic mice universally overexpressing human HSD17B1 were used (HSD17B1TG mice). Mammary glands obtained from HSD17B1TG females at different ages were investigated for morphology and histology, and HSD17B1 activity and estrogen receptor activation in mammary gland tissue were assessed. To study the significance of HSD17B1 enzyme expression locally in mammary gland tissue, HSD17B1-expressing mammary epithelium was transplanted into cleared mammary fat pads of wild-type females, and the effects on mammary gland estradiol production, epithelial cells and the myoepithelium were investigated. HSD17B1TG females showed increased estrone to estradiol conversion and estrogen-response element-driven estrogen receptor signaling in mammary gland tissue, and they showed extensive lobuloalveolar development that was further enhanced by age along with an increase in serum prolactin concentrations. At old age, HSD17B1TG females developed mammary cancers. Mammary-restricted HSD17B1 expression induced lesions at the sites of ducts and alveoli, accompanied by peri- and intraductal inflammation and disruption of the myoepithelial cell layer. The lesions were shown to be estrogen dependent, as treatment with an antiestrogen, ICI 182,780, starting when lesions were already established reversed the phenotype. These data elucidate the ability of human HSD17B1 to enhance estrogen action in the mammary gland in vivo and indicate that HSD17B1 is a factor inducing phenotypic alterations associated with mammary tumorigenesis.

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Anne Wierinckx, Carole Auger, Pauline Devauchelle, Arlette Reynaud, Pascale Chevallier, Michel Jan, Gilles Perrin, Michelle Fèvre-Montange, Catherine Rey, Dominique Figarella-Branger, Gérald Raverot, Marie-Françoise Belin, Joël Lachuer, and Jacqueline Trouillas

Although most pituitary tumors are benign, some are invasive or aggressive. In the absence of specific markers of malignancy, only tumors with metastases are considered malignant. To identify markers of invasion and aggressiveness, we focused on prolactin (PRL) tumors in the human and rat. Using radiology and histological methods, we classified 25 human PRL tumors into three groups (non-invasive, invasive, and aggressive–invasive) and compared them with a model of transplantable rat PRL tumors with benign and malignant lineages. Combining histological(mitoses and labeling for Ki-67, P53, pituitary transforming tumor gene (PTTG), and polysialic acid neural cell adhesion molecule) and transcriptomic (microarrays and q-RTPCR) methods with clinical data (post-surgical outcome with case–control statistical analysis), we found nine genes implicated in invasion (ADAMTS6, CRMP1, and DCAMKL3) proliferation (PTTG, ASK, CCNB1, AURKB, and CENPE), or pituitary differentiation (PITX1) showing differential expression in the three groups of tumors (P = 0.015 to 0.0001). A case–control analysis, comparing patients in remission (9 controls) and patients with persistent or recurrent tumors (14 cases) revealed that eight out of the nine genes were differentially up- or downregulated (P = 0.05 to 0.002), with only PTTG showing no correlation with clinical course (P = 0.258). These combined histological and transcriptomic analyses improve the pathological diagnosis of PRL tumors, indicating a reliable procedure for predicting tumor aggressiveness and recurrence potential. The similar gene profiles found between non-invasive human and benign rat tumors, as well as between aggressive–invasive human and malignant rat tumors provide new insights into malignancy in human pituitary tumors.

Free access

Gy Liszka, I Számel, I Pete, Á Petrányi, N Udvarhelyi, and B Budai

Abstract

The mammographic appearance of the female breast is influenced by physiological changes related to normal ageing (menopause), endocrine dysfunction, or the combined effects of these factors. During the period from 1 October 1995 to 30 November 1996, mammographic screening was performed on 2356 females from a Budapest district and multiple benign breast lesions (MBBL) were diagnosed in 211 (8.94%) subjects. The hormonal background of this lesion was explored by measuring serum sex hormone levels (oestradiol (E2), progesterone, testosterone, prolactin, FSH and LH) on 40 subjects randomly selected from both Group A (women with involutional changes only) and Group B (patients with MBBL). Serum E2 levels were considerably, but not statistically significantly higher in patients with MBBL (102.2±40.2 vs 50.8±18.7 pmol/l), whereas the elevations of serum progesterone (2.29±0.4 vs 0.901±0.5 nmol/l, P=0.0325) and LH (64.3±9.4 vs 48.9±13.9 IU/l, P=0.0194) levels were statistically significant.

In patients with MBBL, parallel histological studies revealed persistent lobules with cell atypia. Consequently, MBBL with distinct radiomorphological features may result from endocrine dysfunction associated with the postmenopausal period. In such cases, cell atypia is more commonly diagnosed by histology. Accordingly, MBBL can be considered as a precancerous lesion. The changes in hormone levels observed suggest that endocrine dysfunction is accompanied by a slight impairment of negative feedback regulation, and regular clinical and laboratory screening of the risk population is recommended.

Acknowledgement

This study was carried out under the auspices of the Secondary Prevention Subcomponent (1.13) of the World Bank HSM Project (3597-HU).

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Ivana De Martino, Rosa Visone, Dario Palmieri, Paolo Cappabianca, Paolo Chieffi, Floriana Forzati, Antonio Barbieri, Mogens Kruhoffer, Gaetano Lombardi, Alfredo Fusco, and Monica Fedele

The high-mobility group A (HMGA) family of proteins orchestrates the assembly of nucleoprotein structures playing important roles in gene transcription, recombination, and chromatin structure through a complex network of protein–DNA and protein–protein interactions. Recently, we have generated transgenic mice carrying wild type or truncated HMGA2 genes under the transcriptional control of the cytomegalovirus promoter. These mice developed pituitary adenomas secreting prolactin and GH mainly due to an increased E2F1 activity, directly consequent to the HMGA2 overexpression. To identify other genes involved in the process of pituitary tumorigenesis induced by the HMGA2 gene, in this study we have analyzed the gene expression profile of three HMGA2-pituitary adenomas in comparison with a pool of ten normal pituitary glands from control mice, using the Affymetrix MG MU11K oligonucleotide array representing ~13 000 unique genes. We have identified 82 transcripts that increased and 72 transcripts that decreased at least four-fold in all the mice pituitary adenomas analyzed compared with normal pituitary glands. Among these genes, we focused our attention on the Mia/Cd-rap gene, whose expression was essentially suppressed in all of the pituitary adenomas tested by the microarray. We demonstrated that the HMGA proteins directly bind to the promoter of the Mia/Cd-rap gene and are able to downregulate its expression. In order to understand a possible role of Mia/Cd-rap in pituitary cell growth, we performed a colony assay in GH3 and GH4 cells. Interestingly, Mia/Cd-rap expression inhibits their proliferation, suggesting a potential tumor suppressor role of Mia/Cd-rap in pituitary cells.

Restricted access

M Baum

I must say how honoured I am to have been given this task. There are so many other people in this audience who could have spoken about the history, development and contemporary use of tamoxifen just as well, if not better, than myself. No talk about tamoxifen should begin without acknowledging the pioneering work of Arthur Walpole who synthesised the molecule in 1963 (Harper & Walpole 1966). Sadly he died long before its clinical importance could begin to be appreciated. As most of you know, it was developed originally as a contraceptive agent but was found paradoxically to act as a fertility drug acting, via its anti-oestrogenic properties, on the hypothalamus. Its agonistic as well as antagonistic properties continue to cause argument about how to classify its action. As far as the biochemists are concerned it is a tri-phenyl ethyline derivative with a potent hydroxylated metabolite (Fromson et al. 1973
Free access

S K Kang, K-C Choi, H-S Yang, and P C K Leung

Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) functions as a key neuroendocrine regulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. In addition to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, GnRH and its receptor have been detected in other reproductive tissues including the gonads, placenta and tumours arising from these tissues. Recently, a second form of GnRH (GnRH-II) and type II GnRH receptor have been found in normal ovarian surface epithelium and neoplastic counterparts. The two types of GnRH may play an important role as an autocrine/paracrine regulator of reproductive functions and ovarian tumour growth. In this review, the distribution and potential roles of GnRH-I/-II and their GnRH receptors in the ovarian cells and ovarian cancer will be discussed.

Free access

Didier Marot, Ivan Bieche, Chantal Aumas, Stéphanie Esselin, Céline Bouquet, Sophie Vacher, Gwendal Lazennec, Michel Perricaudet, Frederique Kuttenn, Rosette Lidereau, and Nicolas de Roux

KiSS1 is a putative metastasis suppressor gene in melanoma and breast cancer-encoding kisspeptins, which are also described as neuroendocrine regulators of the gonadotropic axis. Negative as well as positive regulation of KiSS1 gene expression by estradiol (E2) has been reported in the hypothalamus. Estrogen receptor α (ERα level is recognized as a marker of breast cancer, raising the question of whether expression of KiSS1 and its G-protein-coupled receptor (GPR54) is down- or upregulated by estrogens in breast cancer cells. KiSS1 was found to be expressed in MDA-MB-231, MCF7, and T47D cell lines, but not in ZR75-1, L56Br, and MDA-MB-435 cells. KiSS1 mRNA levels decreased significantly in ERα-negative MDA-MB-231 cells expressing recombinant ERα. In contrast, tamoxifen (TAM) treatment of ERα-positive MCF7 and T47D cells increased KiSS1 and GPR54 levels. The clinical relevance of this negative regulation of KiSS1 and GPR54 by E2 was then studied in postmenopausal breast cancers. KiSS1 mRNA increased with the grade of the breast tumors. ERα-positive invasive primary tumors expressed sevenfold lower KiSS1 levels than ERα-negative tumors. Among ERα-positive breast tumors from postmenopausal women treated with TAM, high KiSS1 combined with high GPR54 mRNA tumoral levels was unexpectedly associated with shorter relapse-free survival (RFS) relative to tumors expressing low tumoral mRNA levels of both genes. The contradictory observation of putative metastasis inhibitor role of kisspeptins and RFS to TAM treatment suggests that evaluation of KiSS1 and its receptor tumoral mRNA levels could be new interesting markers of the tumoral resistance to anti-estrogen treatment.

Free access

G S Harrison, M E Wierman, T M Nett, and L M Glode

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is the hypothalamic factor that mediates reproductive competence. Intermittent GnRH secretion from the hypothalamus acts upon its receptor in the anterior pituitary to regulate the production and release of the gonadotropins, LH and FSH. LH and FSH then stimulate sex steroid hormone synthesis and gametogenesis in the gonads to ensure reproductive competence. The pituitary requires pulsatile stimulation by GnRH to synthesize and release the gonadotropins LH and FSH. Clinically, native GnRH is used in a pump delivery system to create an episodic delivery pattern to restore hormonal defects in patients with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Agonists of GnRH are delivered in a continuous mode to turn off reproductive function by inhibiting gonadotropin production, thus lowering sex steroid production, resulting in medical castration. They have been used in endocrine disorders such as precocious puberty, endometriosis and leiomyomata, but are also studied extensively in hormone-dependent malignancies. The detection of GnRH and its receptor in other tissues, including the breast, ovary, endometrium, placenta and prostate suggested that GnRH agonists and antagonists may also have direct actions at peripheral targets. This paper reviews the current data concerning differential control of GnRH and GnRH receptor expression and signaling in the hypothalamic–pituitary axis and extrapituitary tissues. Using these data as a backdrop, we then review the literature about the action of GnRH in cancer cells, the utility of GnRH analogs in various malignancies and then update the research in novel therapies targeted to the GnRH receptor in cancer cells to promote anti-proliferative effects and control of tumor burden.