The clinical presentation of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) varies widely, although the underlying mechanistic reasons for this disparity remain unknown. We recently reported that parathyroid tumors can be functionally segregated into two distinct groups on the basis of their relative responsiveness to ambient calcium, and that patients in these groups differ significantly in their likelihood of manifesting bone disability. To examine the molecular basis for this phenotypic variation in PHPT, we compared the global gene expression profiles of calcium-sensitive and calcium-resistant parathyroid tumors. RNAseq and proteomic analysis identified a candidate set of differentially expressed genes highly correlated with calcium-sensing capacity. Subsequent quantitative assessment of the expression levels of these genes in an independent cohort of parathyroid tumors confirmed that calcium-sensitive tumors cluster in a discrete transcriptional profile group. These data indicate that PHPT is not an etiologically monolithic disorder and suggest that divergent molecular mechanisms could drive the observed phenotypic differences in PHPT disease course, provenance, and outcome.
James Koh, Joyce A Hogue, Sanziana A Roman, Randall P Scheri, Hèléne Fradin, David L Corcoran, and Julie A Sosa
G R Mundy and T A Guise
Tumors cause multiple effects on the skeleton and on calcium homeostasis, but they do so in specific patterns which are becoming better defined as the mediators responsible become more fully characterized. Metastatic bone disease occurs in the majority of patients with advanced cancer, and is particularly frequent in breast, lung and prostate cancers, which are the most common of all human tumors. Approximately 1,000 000 people die each year in Western Europe and the United States from these three malignancies, and the majority of these people have bone metastases. Bone is the third most common site of metastatic disease in tumors of all types and the second most common in breast and prostate cancer. In this review, the role of the tumor peptide parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTH-rP) in the effects of cancer on the skeleton will be discussed.
Jessica Svedlund, Elham Barazeghi, Peter Stålberg, Per Hellman, Göran Åkerström, Peyman Björklund, and Gunnar Westin
Primary hyperparathyroidism (pHPT) resulting from parathyroid tumors is a common endocrine disorder with incompletely understood etiology. In renal failure, secondary hyperparathyroidism (sHPT) occurs with multiple tumor development as a result of calcium and vitamin D regulatory disturbance. The aim of this study was to investigate a potential role of the histone 3 lysine 27 methyltransferase EZH2 in parathyroid tumorigenesis. Parathyroid tumors from patients with pHPT included adenomas and carcinomas. Hyperplastic parathyroid glands from patients with HPT secondary to uremia and normal parathyroid tissue specimens were included in this study. Quantitative RT-PCR, western blotting, bisulfite pyrosequencing, colony formation assay, and RNA interference were used. EZH2 was overexpressed in a subset of the benign and in all malignant parathyroid tumors as determined by quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting analyses. Overexpression was explained by EZH2 gene amplification in a large fraction of tumors. EZH2 depletion by RNA interference inhibited sHPT-1 parathyroid cell line proliferation as determined by tritium–thymidine incorporation and colony formation assays. EZH2 depletion also interfered with the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway by increased expression of growth-suppressive AXIN2, a negative regulator of β-catenin stability. Indeed, EZH2 contributed to the total level of aberrantly accumulated transcriptionally active (nonphosphoylated) β-catenin in the parathyroid tumor cells. To our knowledge EZH2 gene amplification presents the first genetic aberration common to parathyroid adenomas, secondary hyperplastic parathyroid glands, and parathyroid carcinomas. This supports the possibility of a common pathway in parathyroid tumor development.
Luqman Sulaiman, Inga-Lena Nilsson, C Christofer Juhlin, Felix Haglund, Anders Höög, Catharina Larsson, and Jamileh Hashemi
In this study, we genetically characterized parathyroid adenomas with large glandular weights, for which independent observations suggest pronounced clinical manifestations. Large parathyroid adenomas (LPTAs) were defined as the 5% largest sporadic parathyroid adenomas identified among the 590 cases operated in our institution during 2005–2009. The LPTA group showed a higher relative number of male cases and significantly higher levels of total plasma and ionized serum calcium (P<0.001). Further analysis of 21 LPTAs revealed low MIB1 proliferation index (0.1–1.5%), MEN1 mutations in five cases, and one HRPT2 (CDC73) mutation. Total or partial loss of parafibromin expression was observed in ten tumors, two of which also showed loss of APC expression. Using array CGH, we demonstrated recurrent copy number alterations most frequently involving loss in 1p (29%), gain in 5 (38%), and loss in 11q (33%). Totally, 21 minimal overlapping regions were defined for losses in 1p, 7q, 9p, 11, and 15q and gains in 3q, 5, 7p, 8p, 16q, 17p, and 19q. In addition, 12 tumors showed gross alterations of entire or almost entire chromosomes most frequently gain of 5 and loss of chromosome 11. While gain of 5 was the most frequent alteration observed in LPTAs, it was only detected in a small proportion (4/58 cases, 7%) of parathyroid adenomas. A significant positive correlation was observed between parathyroid hormone level and total copy number gain (r=0.48, P=0.031). These results support that LPTAs represent a group of patients with pronounced parathyroid hyperfunction and associated with specific genomic features.
C Verdelli, L Avagliano, P Creo, V Guarnieri, A Scillitani, L Vicentini, G B Steffano, E Beretta, L Soldati, E Costa, A Spada, G P Bulfamante, and S Corbetta
Components of the tumour microenvironment initiate and promote cancer development. In this study, we investigated the stromal component of parathyroid neoplasia. Immunohistochemistry for alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) showed an abundant periacinar distribution of α-SMA+ cells in normal parathyroid glands (n=3). This pattern was progressively lost in parathyroid adenomas (PAds; n=6) where α-SMA+cells were found to surround new microvessels, as observed in foetal parathyroid glands (n=2). Moreover, in atypical adenomas (n=5) and carcinomas (n=4), α-SMA+ cells disappeared from the parenchyma and accumulated in the capsula and fibrous bands. At variance with normal glands, parathyroid tumours (n=37) expressed high levels of fibroblast-activation protein (FAP) transcripts, a marker of tumour-associated fibroblasts. We analysed the ability of PAd-derived cells to activate fibroblasts using human bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs). PAd-derived cells induced a significant increase in FAP and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) mRNA levels in co-cultured hBM-MSCs. Furthermore, the role of the calcium-sensing receptor (CASR) and of the CXCL12/CXCR4 pathway in the PAd-induced activation of hBM-MSCs was investigated. Treatment of co-cultures of hBM-MSCs and PAd-derived cells with the CXCR4 inhibitor AMD3100 reduced the stimulated VEGFA levels, while CASR activation by the R568 agonist was ineffective. PAd-derived cells co-expressing parathyroid hormone (PTH)/CXCR4 and PTH/CXCL12 were identified by FACS, suggesting a paracrine/autocrine signalling. Finally, CXCR4 blockade by AMD3100 reduced PTH gene expression levels in PAd-derived cells. In conclusion, i) PAd-derived cells activated cells of mesenchymal origin; ii) PAd-associated fibroblasts were involved in tumuor neoangiogenesis and iii) CXCL12/CXCR4 pathway was expressed and active in PAd cells, likely contributing to parathyroid tumour neoangiogenesis and PTH synthesis modulation.
S Corbetta, L Vicentini, S Ferrero, A Lania, G Mantovani, D Cordella, P Beck-Peccoz, and A Spada
Previous studies indicate that nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB) transcription factor is deregulated and overexpressed in several human neoplasias. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the NF-κB pathway may be involved in parathyroid tumorigenesis. For this purpose, we determined the level of NF-κB activity, evaluated as phosphorylation of the transcription subunit p65, its modulation by specific and non-specific agents and its impact on cyclin D1 expression. Phosphorylated p65 levels present in parathyroid neoplasias (n = 13) were significantly lower than those found in normal tissues (n = 3; mean optical density (OD) 0.19 ± 0.1 vs 0.4 ± 0.1, P = 0.007), but there was no significant difference between adenomas and secondary and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1)-related hyperplasia. Conversely, MEN2A (Cys634Arg)-related parathyroid samples showed extremely high levels of phosphorylated p65 that exhibited a nuclear localization at immunohistochemistry (n = 3). Phosphorylated p65 levels negatively correlated with menin expression (r 2 = 0.42, P = 0.05). Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) caused a significant increase in phosphorylated p65 levels (183 ± 13.8% of basal) while calcium sensing receptor (CaR) agonists exerted a significant inhibition (19.2 ± 3.3% of basal). Although TNFα was poorly effective in increasing cyclin D1 expression, NF-κB blockade by the specific inhibitor BAY11-7082 reduced FCS-stimulated cyclin D1 by about 60%. Finally, the inhibitory effects of CaR and BAY11-7082 on cyclin D1 expression were not additive – by blocking NF-κB CaR activation did not induce a further reduction in cyclin D1 levels. In conclusion, the study demonstrated that in parathyroid tumors: (1) p65 phosphorylation was dramatically increased by RET constitutive activation and was negatively correlated with menin expression, (2) p65 phosphorylation was increased and reduced by TNFα and CaR agonists respectively, and (3) blockade of the NF-κB pathway caused a significant decrease in cyclin D1 expression.
G A Clines and T A Guise
Calcium homeostasis is a tightly regulated process involving the co-ordinated efforts of the skeleton, kidney, parathyroid glands and intestine. Neoplasms can alter this homeostasis indirectly through the production of endocrine factors resulting in humoral hypercalcaemia of malignancy. Relatively common with breast and lung cancer, this paraneoplastic condition is most often due to tumour production of parathyroid hormone-related protein and ensuing increased osteoclastic bone resorption. Although control of hypercalcaemia is generally successful, the development of this complication is associated with a poor prognosis. The metastasis of tumour cells to bone represents another skeletal complication of malignancy. As explained in the ‘seed and soil’ hypothesis, bone represents a fertile ground for cancer cells to flourish. The molecular mechanisms of this mutually beneficial relationship between bone and cancer cells are beginning to be understood. In the case of osteolytic bone disease, tumour-produced parathyroid hormone-related protein stimulates osteoclasts that in turn secrete tumour-activating transforming growth factor-β that further stimulates local cancer cells. This ‘vicious cycle’ of bone metastases represents reciprocal bone/cancer cellular signals that likely modulate osteoblastic bone metastatic lesions as well. The development of targeted therapies to either block initial cancer cell chemotaxis, invasion and adhesion or to break the ‘vicious cycle’ is dependent on a more complete understanding of bone metastases. Although bisphosphonates delay progression of skeletal metastases, it is clear that more effective therapies are needed. Cancer-associated bone morbidity remains a major public health problem, and to improve therapy and prevention it is important to understand the pathophysiology of the effects of cancer on bone. This review will detail scientific advances regarding this area.
Anna Angelousi, Eva Kassi, Narjes Ansari-Nasiri, Harpal Randeva, Gregory Kaltsas, and George Chrousos
Circadian rhythms at a central and peripheral level are operated by transcriptional/translational feedback loops involving a set of genes called ‘clock genes’ that have been implicated in the development of several diseases, including malignancies. Dysregulation of the Clock system can influence cancer susceptibility by regulating DNA damage and repair mechanisms, as well as apoptosis. A number of oncogenic pathways can be dysregulated via clock genes’ epigenetic alterations, including hypermethylation of clock genes’ promoters or variants of clock genes. Clock gene disruption has been studied in breast, lung and prostate cancer, and haematological malignancies. However, it is still not entirely clear whether clock gene disruption is the cause or the consequence of tumourigenesis and data in endocrine neoplasms are scarce. Recent findings suggest that clock genes are implicated in benign and malignant adrenocortical neoplasias. They have been also associated with follicular and papillary thyroid carcinomas and parathyroid adenomas, as well as pituitary adenomas and craniopharyngiomas. Dysregulation of clock genes is also encountered in ovarian and testicular tumours and may also be related with their susceptibility to chemotherapeutic agents. The most common clock genes that are implicated in endocrine neoplasms are PER1, CRY1; in most cases their expression is downregulated in tumoural compared to normal tissues. Although there is still a lot to be done for the better understanding of the role of clock genes in endocrine tumourigenenesis, existing evidence could guide research and help identify novel therapeutic targets aiming mainly at the peripheral components of the clock gene system.
A Perren, S Schmid, T Locher, P Saremaslani, C Bonvin, P U Heitz, and P Komminoth
The tumorigenesis of sporadic endocrine tumors is still not fully understood. Activating point mutations of the serine/threonine kinase gene BRAF located on 7q34 are found in a wide range of malignancies, with the highest frequency (66%) occurring in malignant melanomas. Melanomas are tumors of neural-crest-derived cells as are medullary thyroid carcinomas, pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. BRAF has not been examined in endocrine tumors of the diffuse neuroendocrine system or of neural-crest-derived cells.
We examined 130 endocrine tumors of the pancreas, parathyroid gland, adrenal medulla, paraganglia, lung and gastrointestinal tract as well as follicular and c-cell-derived thyroid tumors. We found a high rate of V559E mutations in papillary thyroid carcinomas (47%), one V599E mutation in a well-differentiated gastric endocrine carcinoma (malignant carcinoid), but no activating BRAF mutations in all other endocrine tumors examined. These results point towards different pathways in tumorigenesis of endocrine tumors of various localizations and only rare involvement of the MAP kinase (MAPK) pathway in a subset of malignant neuroendocrine tumors.
A Falchetti and M L Brandi
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasias type 1 (MEN 1) and type 2 (MEN 2) represent complex inherited (autosomal dominant traits) syndromes characterized by occurrence of distinct proliferative disorders of endocrine tissues, varying from hyperplasia to adenoma and carcinoma.
MEN 1 syndrome is characterized by parathyroid gland, anterior pituitary and endocrine pancreas tumors. Other endocrine and non endocrine tumors, such as carcinoids, lipomas, pinealomas, adrenocortical and thyroid follicular tumors, have been also described in MEN 1 patients occurring at higher frequency than in general population (Brandi ML et al. 1987). Recently also a spinal ependymoma has been found in a patient with MEN 1 syndrome (Kato H et al 1997)
MEN 2 syndromes recognize three main clinical entities, MEN 2A, characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and pheochromocytoma (PHEO); MEN 2B that exhibits MTC, usually developing sooner than the MEN 2A- associated one, pheochromocytoma, multiple neuromas of gastroenteric mucosa, myelinated corneal nerves (Gorlin RJ et al. 1968) and a typical marphanoid habitus; and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma only (FMTC) featuring by families with at least four members with MTC and no objective evidence of pheochromocytoma and parathyroid disease on screening of affected and at-risk members, as stated by the International RET Mutation Consortium (Larsson C et al. 1994).
This work was supported by grants of the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (to MLB), from CNR/PF ACRO (INV. 95.00316 PF 39) and by MURST 60% (to MLB).