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Open access

Patrick Petrossians, Adrian F Daly, Emil Natchev, Luigi Maione, Karin Blijdorp, Mona Sahnoun-Fathallah, Renata Auriemma, Alpha M Diallo, Anna-Lena Hulting, Diego Ferone, Vaclav Hana Jr, Silvia Filipponi, Caroline Sievers, Claudia Nogueira, Carmen Fajardo-Montañana, Davide Carvalho, Vaclav Hana, Günter K Stalla, Marie-Lise Jaffrain-Réa, Brigitte Delemer, Annamaria Colao, Thierry Brue, Sebastian J C M M Neggers, Sabina Zacharieva, Philippe Chanson, and Albert Beckers

Acromegaly is a rare disorder caused by chronic growth hormone (GH) hypersecretion. While diagnostic and therapeutic methods have advanced, little information exists on trends in acromegaly characteristics over time. The Liège Acromegaly Survey (LAS) Database, a relational database, is designed to assess the profile of acromegaly patients at diagnosis and during long-term follow-up at multiple treatment centers. The following results were obtained at diagnosis. The study population consisted of 3173 acromegaly patients from ten countries; 54.5% were female. Males were significantly younger at diagnosis than females (43.5 vs 46.4 years; P < 0.001). The median delay from first symptoms to diagnosis was 2 years longer in females (P = 0.015). Ages at diagnosis and first symptoms increased significantly over time (P < 0.001). Tumors were larger in males than females (P < 0.001); tumor size and invasion were inversely related to patient age (P < 0.001). Random GH at diagnosis correlated with nadir GH levels during OGTT (P < 0.001). GH was inversely related to age in both sexes (P < 0.001). Diabetes mellitus was present in 27.5%, hypertension in 28.8%, sleep apnea syndrome in 25.5% and cardiac hypertrophy in 15.5%. Serious cardiovascular outcomes like stroke, heart failure and myocardial infarction were present in <5% at diagnosis. Erythrocyte levels were increased and correlated with IGF-1 values. Thyroid nodules were frequent (34.0%); 820 patients had colonoscopy at diagnosis and 13% had polyps. Osteoporosis was present at diagnosis in 12.3% and 0.6–4.4% had experienced a fracture. In conclusion, this study of >3100 patients is the largest international acromegaly database and shows clinically relevant trends in the characteristics of acromegaly at diagnosis.

Free access

Elina Ritvonen, Eliisa Löyttyniemi, Pia Jaatinen, Tapani Ebeling, Leena Moilanen, Pirjo Nuutila, Ritva Kauppinen-Mäkelin, and Camilla Schalin-Jäntti

Objective

It is unclear whether mortality still is increased in acromegaly and whether there are gender-related differences. We dynamically assessed outcome during long-term follow-up in our nationwide cohort.

Patients and methods

We studied standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) relative to the general population and causes of death in acromegaly (n=333) compared with age- and gender-matched controls (n=4995).

Results

During 20 (0–33) years follow-up, 113 (34%) patients (n=333, 52% women) and 1334 (27%) controls (n=4995) died (P=0.004). SMR (1.9, 95% CI: 1.53–2.34, P<0.001) and all-cause mortality (OR 1.6, 95% CI: 1.2–2.2, P<0.001) were increased in acromegaly. Overall distribution of causes of death (P<0.001) differed between patients and controls but not cardiovascular (34% vs 33%) or cancer deaths (27% vs 27%). In acromegaly, but not in controls, causes of deaths shifted from 44% cardiovascular and 28% cancer deaths during the first decade, to 23% cardiovascular and 35% cancer deaths during the next two decades. In acromegaly, cancer deaths were mostly attributed to pancreatic adenocarcinoma (n=5), breast (n=4), lung (n=3) and colon (n=3) carcinoma. In acromegaly, men were younger than women at diagnosis (median 44.5 vs 50 years, P<0.001) and death (67 vs 76 years, P=0.0015). Compared with controls, women (36% vs 25%, P<0.01), but not men (31% vs 28%, P=0.44), had increased mortality.

Conclusions

In acromegaly, men are younger at diagnosis and death than women. Compared with controls, mortality is increased during 20 years of follow-up, especially in women. Causes of deaths shift from predominantly cardiovascular to cancer deaths.

Free access

Iulia Potorac, Patrick Petrossians, Adrian F Daly, Orsalia Alexopoulou, Sophie Borot, Mona Sahnoun-Fathallah, Frederic Castinetti, France Devuyst, Marie-Lise Jaffrain-Rea, Claire Briet, Florina Luca, Marion Lapoirie, Flavius Zoicas, Isabelle Simoneau, Alpha M Diallo, Ammar Muhammad, Fahrettin Kelestimur, Elena Nazzari, Rogelio Garcia Centeno, Susan M Webb, Marie-Laure Nunes, Vaclav Hana, Véronique Pascal-Vigneron, Irena Ilovayskaya, Farida Nasybullina, Samia Achir, Diego Ferone, Sebastian J C M M Neggers, Brigitte Delemer, Jean-Michel Petit, Christof Schöfl, Gerald Raverot, Bernard Goichot, Patrice Rodien, Bernard Corvilain, Thierry Brue, Franck Schillo, Luaba Tshibanda, Dominique Maiter, Jean-François Bonneville, and Albert Beckers

GH-secreting pituitary adenomas can be hypo-, iso- or hyper-intense on T2-weighted MRI sequences. We conducted the current multicenter study in a large population of patients with acromegaly to analyze the relationship between T2-weighted signal intensity on diagnostic MRI and hormonal and tumoral responses to somatostatin analogs (SSA) as primary monotherapy. Acromegaly patients receiving primary SSA for at least 3 months were included in the study. Hormonal, clinical and general MRI assessments were performed and assessed centrally. We included 120 patients with acromegaly. At diagnosis, 84, 17 and 19 tumors were T2-hypo-, iso- and hyper-intense, respectively. SSA treatment duration, cumulative and mean monthly doses were similar in the three groups. Patients with T2-hypo-intense adenomas had median SSA-induced decreases in GH and IGF-1 of 88% and 59% respectively, which were significantly greater than the decreases observed in the T2-iso- and hyper-intense groups (P < 0.001). Tumor shrinkage on SSA was also significantly greater in the T2-hypo-intense group (38%) compared with the T2-iso- and hyper-intense groups (8% and 3%, respectively; P < 0.0001). The response to SSA correlated with the calculated T2 intensity: the lower the T2-weighted intensity, the greater the decrease in random GH (P < 0.0001, r = 0.22), IGF-1 (P < 0.0001, r = 0.14) and adenoma volume (P < 0.0001, r = 0.33). The T2-weighted signal intensity of GH-secreting adenomas at diagnosis correlates with hormone reduction and tumor shrinkage in response to primary SSA treatment in acromegaly. This study supports its use as a generally available predictive tool at diagnosis that could help to guide subsequent treatment choices in acromegaly.

Free access

Cristina L Ronchi, Silviu Sbiera, Barbara Altieri, Sonja Steinhauer, Vanessa Wild, Michaela Bekteshi, Matthias Kroiss, Martin Fassnacht, and Bruno Allolio

Previous SNP array analyses have revealed genomic alterations of the Notch pathway as being the most frequent abnormality in adrenocortical tumors (ACTs). The aim of the present study was to evaluate the expression of components of Notch signaling in ACTs and to correlate them with clinical outcome. The mRNA expression of JAG1, NOTCH1, and selected target genes of NOTCH1 (HES1, HES5, and HEY2) was evaluated in 80 fresh frozen samples (28 normal adrenal glands (NAGs), 24 adenomas (ACAs), and 28 carcinomas (ACCs)) by quantitative RT-PCR. Immunohistochemistry was performed in 221 tissues on paraffin slides (16 NAGs, 27 ACAs, and 178 ACCs) for JAG1, activated NOTCH1 (aNOTCH1), and HEY2. An independent ACC validation cohort (n=77) was then also investigated. HEY2 mRNA expression was higher in ACCs than it was in ACAs (P<0.05). The protein expression of all of the factors was high (H-score 2–3) in a larger proportion of ACCs as compared to ACAs and NAGs (JAG1 in 27, 15, and 10%; aNOTCH1 in 13, 8, and 0%; HEY2 in 66, 61, and 33% respectively, all P<0.001). High JAG1 expression was associated with earlier tumor stages and lower numbers of metastases in ACCs (both P=0.08) and favorably impacted overall and progression-free survival (PFS) (131 vs 30 months, hazard ratio (HR) 0.45, and 37 vs 9 months, HR 0.51, both P<0.005). This impact on overall survival (OS) was confirmed in the validation cohort. No such association was observed for aNOTCH1 or HEY2. In conclusion, different components of the Notch1 signaling pathway are overexpressed in ACCs, which suggests a role for the pathway in malignant transformation. However, JAG1 is overexpressed in a subgroup of ACCs with a better clinical outcome.

Free access

Massimo Terzolo, Giuseppe Reimondo, Paola Berchialla, Emanuele Ferrante, Elena Malchiodi, Laura De Marinis, Rosario Pivonello, Silvia Grottoli, Marco Losa, Salvatore Cannavo, Diego Ferone, Marcella Montini, Marta Bondanelli, Ernesto De Menis, Chiara Martini, Efisio Puxeddu, Antonino Velardo, Alessandro Peri, Marco Faustini-Fustini, Patrizia Tita, Francesca Pigliaru, Giulia Peraga, Giorgio Borretta, Carla Scaroni, Nicoletta Bazzoni, Antonio Bianchi, Alessandro Berton, Andreea Liliana Serban, Roberto Baldelli, Letizia Maria Fatti, Annamaria Colao, Maura Arosio, and for the Italian Study Group of Acromegaly

It is debated if acromegalic patients have an increased risk to develop malignancies. The aim of the present study was to assess the standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) of different types of cancer in acromegaly on a large series of acromegalic patients managed in the somatostatin analogs era. It was evaluated the incidence of cancer in an Italian nationwide multicenter cohort study of 1512 acromegalic patients, 624 men and 888 women, mean age at diagnosis 45 ± 13 years, followed up for a mean of 10 years (12573 person-years) in respect to the general Italian population. Cancer was diagnosed in 124 patients, 72 women and 52 men. The SIRs for all cancers was significantly increased compared to the general Italian population (expected: 88, SIR 1.41; 95% CI, 1.18–1.68, P < 0.001). In the whole series, we found a significantly increased incidence of colorectal cancer (SIR 1.67; 95% CI, 1.07–2.58, P = 0.022), kidney cancer (SIR 2.87; 95% CI, 1.55–5.34, P < 0.001) and thyroid cancer (SIR 3.99; 95% CI, 2.32–6.87, P < 0.001). The exclusion of 11 cancers occurring before diagnosis of acromegaly (all in women) did not change remarkably the study outcome. In multivariate analysis, the factors significantly associated with an increased risk of malignancy were age and family history of cancer, with a non-significant trend for the estimated duration of acromegaly before diagnosis. In conclusion, we found evidence that acromegaly in Italy is associated with a moderate increase in cancer risk.

Free access

Sylvia L Asa, Walter Kucharczyk, and Shereen Ezzat

Acromegaly has traditionally been regarded as a monomorphous disorder resulting from a benign pituitary adenoma. Increasing evidence, however, is highlighting that this disorder is associated with a spectrum of morphologically distinct pituitary tumors with variable clinical, biochemical and radiologic features and differing therapeutic outcomes that are attributed to different genetic and epigenetic changes. These data underscore the need for developing a more refined clinicopathological risk stratification system and implementing personalized targeted therapeutic approaches.

Free access

Hongyu Chen, Dan Liu, Zhengyan Yang, Limin Sun, Que Deng, Shuo Yang, Lu Qian, Liang Guo, Ming Yu, Meiru Hu, Ming Shi, and Ning Guo

Angiogenesis is an important factor in invasive tumor growth, progression, and metastasis. Multiple proangiogenic mechanisms are involved in tumor angiogenesis. In this study, we showed that the neurotransmitter norepinephrine upregulated VEGF (VEGFA) expression in breast cancer cells and that the culture supernatant from norepinephrine-treated breast cancer cells promoted the formation of the capillary-like network of endothelial cells. However, the effects of norepinephrine were further enhanced when the endothelial cells were cocultured with breast cancer cells, indicating a critical role of tumor cell–endothelial cell contacts in norepinephrine-induced tumor angiogenesis. Interestingly, norepinephrine dramatically induced the activation of the Notch pathway, which is a cell-contact-mediated intercellular signaling pathway and tightly linked to tumor cell–stromal cell interaction and angiogenesis, in the endothelial cells that had been cocultured with breast cancer cells. Furthermore, the expression of the Notch ligand Jagged 1 was significantly upregulated by norepinephrine at both mRNA and protein levels in breast cancer cells. Inhibitors of β2-adrenergic receptor (β2-AR), protein kinase A (PKA), and mTOR could reverse norepinephrine-induced Jagged 1 upregulation, indicating that the β2-AR–PKA–mTOR pathway participates in this process. Knockdown of Jagged 1 expression in breast cancer cells not only repressed norepinephrine-induced activation of the Notch pathway in cocultured endothelial cells but also evidently impaired the effects of norepinephrine on capillary-like sprout formation. These data demonstrate that tumor angiogenesis mediated by the Jagged 1/Notch intercellular signaling is governed by the norepinephrine-activated β2-AR–PKA–mTOR pathway.

Free access

Y Capodanno, F O Buishand, L Y Pang, J Kirpensteijn, J A Mol, and D J Argyle

Insulinomas (INS) are the most common neuroendocrine pancreatic tumours in humans and dogs. The long-term prognosis for malignant INS is still poor due to a low success rate of the current treatment modalities, particularly chemotherapy. A better understanding of the molecular processes underlying the development and progression of INS is required to develop novel targeted therapies. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thought to be critical for the engraftment and chemoresistance of many tumours, including INS. This study was aimed to characterise and target INS CSCs in order to develop novel targeted therapies. Highly invasive and tumourigenic human and canine INS CSC-like cells were successfully isolated. These cells expressed stem cell markers (OCT4, SOX9, SOX2, CD133 and CD34), exhibited greater resistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and demonstrated a more invasive and tumourigenic phenotype in vivo compared to bulk INS cells. Here, we demonstrated that Notch-signalling-related genes (NOTCH2 and HES1) were overexpressed in INS CSC-like cells. Protein analysis showed an active NOTCH2-HES1 signalling in INS cell lines, especially in cells resistant to 5-FU. Inhibition of the Notch pathway, using a gamma secretase inhibitor (GSI), enhanced the sensitivity of INS CSC-like cells to 5-FU. When used in combination GSI and 5-FU, the clonogenicity in vitro and the tumourigenicity in vivo of INS CSC-like cells were significantly reduced. These findings suggested that the combined strategy of Notch signalling inhibition and 5-FU synergistically attenuated enriched INS CSC populations, providing a rationale for future therapeutic exploitation.

Free access

Brandi B Knight, Gabriela M Oprea-Ilies, Arumugam Nagalingam, Lily Yang, Cynthia Cohen, Neeraj K Saxena, and Dipali Sharma

Obese breast cancer patients exhibit a higher risk for larger tumor burden and an increased likelyhood of metastasis. The molecular effects of obesity on carcinogenesis are mediated by the autocrine and paracrine effects of the adipocytokine leptin. Leptin participates in the tumor progression and metastasis of human breast. We show that leptin induces clonogenicity and increases the migration potential of breast cancer cells. We found that survivin expression is induced in response to leptin. In this study, we examine the role and leptin-mediated regulation of survivin. Leptin treatment leads to survivin upregulation, due in part to the activation of Notch1 and the release of a transcriptionally active Notch1 intracellular domain (NICD). Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis shows that NICD gets recruited to the survivin promoter at the CSL (CBF1/RBP-Jk, Su(H), Lag-1) binding site in response to leptin treatment. Inhibition of Notch1 activity inhibits leptin-induced survivin upregulation. Leptin-induced transactivation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is involved in leptin-mediated Notch1 and survivin upregulation, demonstrating a novel upstream role of leptin–EGFR–Notch1 axis. We further show that leptin-induced migration of breast cancer cells requires survivin, as overexpression of survivin further increases, whereas silencing survivin abrogates leptin-induced migration. Using a pharmacological approach to inhibit survivin, we show that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme-A-reductase inhibitors, such as lovastatin, can effectively inhibit leptin-induced survivin expression and migration. Importantly, leptin increased breast tumor growth in nude mice. These data show a novel role for survivin in leptin-induced migration and put forth pharmacological survivin inhibition as a potential novel therapeutic strategy. This conclusion is supported by in vivo data showing the overexpression of leptin and survivin in epithelial cells of high-grade ductal carcinomas in situ and in high-grade invasive carcinomas.

Free access

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.