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Free access

Alberto Ferlin, Francesco Ganz, Manuel Pengo, Riccardo Selice, Anna Chiara Frigo and Carlo Foresta

It is generally assumed that the development of testicular germ cell tumor (TGCT) is under endocrine control. In particular, unbalanced androgen/estrogen levels and/or activity are believed to represent the key events for TGCT development and progression. Furthermore, recent evidence has suggested a strong genetic component for TGCT. In this study, we analyzed whether a genetic variation in estrogen receptor (ESR) genes and steroid hormone metabolism genes is associated with TGCT. We genotyped for 17 polymorphic markers in 11 genes in 234 TGCT cases and 218 controls: ESR (ESR1 and ESR2); CYP19A1 (aromatase); 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase types 1 and 4 (HSD17B1 and HSD17B4) dehydrogenases that convert potent androgens and estrogens to weak hormones; cytochrome P450 hydroxylating enzymes CYP1A1, CYP1A2, and CYP1B1; and the metabolic enzymes COMT, SULT1A1, and SULT1E1. We observed a significant association of rs11205 in HSD17B4 with TGCT. TGCT risk was increased twofold per copy of the minor A allele at this locus (odds ratios (OR)=2.273, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.737–2.973). Homozygous carriage of the minor A allele was associated with an over fourfold increased risk of TGCT (OR=4.561, 95% CI=2.615–7.955) compared with homozygous carriage of the major G allele. The risk was increased both for seminoma (OR=5.327, 95% CI=2.857–9.931) and for nonseminoma (OR=3.222, 95% CI=1.471–7.059). We found for the first time an association of polymorphisms in HSD17B4 gene with TGCT. Our findings expand the current knowledge on the role of genetic contribution in testicular cancer susceptibility, and support the hypothesis that variations in hormone metabolism genes might change the hormonal environment implicated in testicular carcinogenesis.

Free access

Steven M Hill, Victoria P Belancio, Robert T Dauchy, Shulin Xiang, Samantha Brimer, Lulu Mao, Adam Hauch, Peter W Lundberg, Whitney Summers, Lin Yuan, Tripp Frasch and David E Blask

The present review discusses recent work on melatonin-mediated circadian regulation, the metabolic and molecular signaling mechanisms that are involved in human breast cancer growth, and the associated consequences of circadian disruption by exposure to light at night (LEN). The anti-cancer actions of the circadian melatonin signal in human breast cancer cell lines and xenografts heavily involve MT1 receptor-mediated mechanisms. In estrogen receptor alpha (ERα)-positive human breast cancer, melatonin suppresses ERα mRNA expression and ERα transcriptional activity via the MT1 receptor. Melatonin also regulates the transactivation of other members of the nuclear receptor superfamily, estrogen-metabolizing enzymes, and the expression of core clock and clock-related genes. Furthermore, melatonin also suppresses tumor aerobic metabolism (the Warburg effect) and, subsequently, cell-signaling pathways critical to cell proliferation, cell survival, metastasis, and drug resistance. Melatonin demonstrates both cytostatic and cytotoxic activity in breast cancer cells that appears to be cell type-specific. Melatonin also possesses anti-invasive/anti-metastatic actions that involve multiple pathways, including inhibition of p38 MAPK and repression of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). Studies have demonstrated that melatonin promotes genomic stability by inhibiting the expression of LINE-1 retrotransposons. Finally, research in animal and human models has indicated that LEN-induced disruption of the circadian nocturnal melatonin signal promotes the growth, metabolism, and signaling of human breast cancer and drives breast tumors to endocrine and chemotherapeutic resistance. These data provide the strongest understanding and support of the mechanisms that underpin the epidemiologic demonstration of elevated breast cancer risk in night-shift workers and other individuals who are increasingly exposed to LEN.

Free access

P E Goss

Third-generation aromatase inhibitors are able to reduce circulating plasma estrogen concentrations in postmenopausal women to below detectable limits and significantly inhibit aromatase, the enzyme responsible for estrogen synthesis, in normal breast tissue and breast tumors. Their role in the treatment of advanced breast cancer is well established and their use in adjuvant therapy is currently being explored. On the basis of these trials, evaluation of these inhibitors in the prevention of breast cancer may be appropriate. Aromatase inhibitors have non-specific toxic side effects including (but not limited to): asthenia, headache, nausea, peripheral edema, fatigue, vomiting and dyspepsia. In addition, certain endocrinological side effects in postmenopausal women are notable, namely hot flushes and vaginal dryness. In advanced breast cancer, these side effects result in treatment withdrawal in few (<4%) women. Of concern, however, are the potential long-term endocrinological side effects in women receiving treatment as first-line adjuvant therapy or in sequence or combination with tamoxifen or other selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). Current studies of adjuvant treatments for breast cancer in healthy women are carefully evaluating, in addition to general toxicities, the effects on bone, lipid metabolism, cardiovascular risk, quality of life and menopausal symptoms. Careful evaluation of all-cause morbidity and mortality is necessary to plan trials and justify long-term use of aromatase inhibitors in the treatment or prevention of breast cancer in healthy women.

Free access

Shalini Patiar and Adrian L Harris

Hypoxia occurs in solid tumours due to a mismatch between tumour growth and angiogenesis. Hypoxia in solid tumours is associated with an aggressive phenotype and resistance to radiation therapy and chemotherapy leading to poor patient prognosis. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor, which is activated in response to intratumoural hypoxia and as a result of genetic alterations that activate oncogenes and inactivate tumour suppressor genes. It plays a key role in the adaptation of tumour cells to hypoxia by activating the transcription of genes, which regulate several biological processes including angiogenesis, cell proliferation and survival, glucose metabolism, pH regulation and migration. This makes HIF-1 an attractive target for the development of anticancer agents. The success of these agents depends on reliable methods to identify those patients most likely to benefit from HIF-1-targeted therapy. Several novel small molecule inhibitors of HIF-1 have been identified and are moving towards clinical trials, but none of these are specific for HIF-1. Further work is ongoing to identify more selective HIF-1 inhibitors.

Free access

Frederieke M Brouwers, Sven Gläsker, Amanda F Nave, Alexander O Vortmeyer, Irina Lubensky, Steven Huang, Mones S Abu-Asab, Graeme Eisenhofer, Robert J Weil, Deric M Park, W Marston Linehan, Karel Pacak and Zhengping Zhuang

Pheochromocytomas are catecholamine-producing tumors that can occur in the context of von Hippel–Lindau syndrome (VHL) and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2). Pheochromocytomas in these two syndromes differ in histopathological features, catecholamine metabolism, and clinical phenotype. To further investigate the nature of these differences, we compared the global protein expressions of 8 MEN2A-associated pheochromocytomas with 11 VHL-associated pheochromocytomas by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis proteomic profiling followed by sequencing and identification of differentially expressed proteins. Although both types of pheochromocytoma shared similarities in their protein expression patterns, the expression of several proteins was distinctly different between VHL- and MEN2A-associated pheochromocytomas. We identified several of these differentially expressed proteins. One of the proteins with higher expression in MEN2-associated tumors was chromogranin B, of which the differential expression was confirmed by western blot analysis. Our results expand the evidence for proteomic differences between these two tumor entities, and suggest that VHL-associated pheochromocytomas may be deficient in fundamental machinery for catecholamine storage. In light of these new findings, as well as existing evidence for differences between both types of pheochromocytomas, we propose that these tumors may have different developmental origins.

Free access

Yvonne Fierz, Ruslan Novosyadlyy, Archana Vijayakumar, Shoshana Yakar and Derek LeRoith

Type 2 diabetes increases breast cancer risk and mortality, and hyperinsulinemia is a major mediator of this effect. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is activated by insulin and is a key regulator of mammary tumor progression. Pharmacological mTOR inhibition suppresses tumor growth in numerous mammary tumor models in the non-diabetic setting. However, the role of the mTOR pathway in type 2 diabetes-induced tumor growth remains elusive. Herein, we investigated whether the mTOR pathway is implicated in insulin-induced mammary tumor progression in a transgenic mouse model of type 2 diabetes (MKR mice) and evaluated the impact of mTOR inhibition on the diabetic state. Mammary tumor progression was studied in the double transgenic MMTV-Polyoma Virus middle T antigen (PyVmT)/MKR mice and by orthotopic inoculation of PyVmT- and Neu/ErbB2-driven mammary tumor cells (Met-1 and MCNeuA cells respectively). mTOR inhibition by rapamycin markedly suppressed tumor growth in both wild-type and MKR mice. In diabetic animals, however, the promoting action of insulin on tumor growth was completely blunted by rapamycin, despite a worsening of the carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Taken together, pharmacological mTOR blockade is sufficient to abrogate mammary tumor progression in the setting of hyperinsulinemia, and thus mTOR inhibitors may be an attractive therapeutic modality for breast cancer patients with type 2 diabetes. Careful monitoring of the metabolic state, however, is important as dose adaptations of glucose- and/or lipid-lowering therapy might be necessary.

Restricted access

Na Li, Huanni Li, Lanqin Cao and Xianquan Zhan

Mitochondria play important roles in growth, signal transduction, division, tumorigenesis and energy metabolism in epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOCs) without an effective biomarker. To investigate the proteomic profile of EOC mitochondrial proteins, a 6-plex isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) proteomics was used to identify mitochondrial expressed proteins (mtEPs) in EOCs relative to controls, followed by an integrative analysis of the identified mtEPs and the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data from 419 patients. A total of 5115 quantified proteins were identified from purified mitochondrial samples, and 262 proteins were significantly related to overall survival in EOC patients. Furthermore, 63 proteins were identified as potential biomarkers for the development of an EOC, and our findings were consistent with previous reports on a certain extent. Pathway network analysis identified 70 signaling pathways. Interestingly, the results demonstrated that cancer cells exhibited an increased dependence on mitophagy, such as peroxisome, phagosome, lysosome, valine, leucine and isoleucine degradation and fatty acid degradation pathways, which might play an important role in EOC invasion and metastasis. Five proteins (GLDC, PCK2, IDH2, CPT2 and HMGCS2) located in the mitochondrion and enriched pathways were selected for further analysis in an EOC cell line and tissues, and the results confirmed reliability of iTRAQ proteomics. These findings provide a large-scale mitochondrial proteomic profiling with quantitative information, a certain number of potential protein biomarkers and a novel vision in the mitophagy bio-mechanism of a human ovarian carcinoma.

Free access

J Ragaz

Aromatase is one of the key enzymes possibly linked with the perpetuation or even initiation of breast cancer. Modulation of its activity by the new generation inhibitors has resulted in increased responses and improved therapeutic ratio compared with those of parent aromatase inhibitors. More recent trials have shown promising results with regard to improved therapeutic ratio compared with what is seen with presently accepted second-line hormonal approaches. Present data and laboratory research indicate that new aromatase inhibitors have the potential to play an important role as adjuvants, and possibly in the prevention of human breast cancer. It is probable that it may be as adjuvants that their real therapeutic strength in terms of a beneficial impact on survival may be realized. The absence of estrogen agonist activity of new aromatase inhibitors on lipid and bone metabolism calls for more clinical studies having late mortality in breast cancer survivors as the ultimate outcome objective; in this regard, interaction of new aromatase inhibitors with new selective estrogen receptor modulators looks promising. Achievement of these outcomes, and understanding of interactions with other therapies, await the termination of present trials and the start of new initiatives.

Open access

Ju-Yeon Moon, Man Ho Choi and Jayoung Kim

Cholesterol and sex steroid hormones including androgens and estrogens play a critical role in the development and progression of urological diseases such as prostate cancer. This disease remains the most commonly diagnosed malignant tumor in men and is the leading cause of death from different cancers. Attempts to understand the role of cholesterol and steroid metabolism in urological diseases have been ongoing for many years, but despite this, our mechanistic and translational understanding remains elusive. In order to further evaluate the problem, we have taken an interest in metabolomics; a discipline dedicated to the systematic study of biologically active metabolites in cells, tissues, hair and biofluids. Recently, we provided evidence that a quantitative measurement of cholesterol and sex steroid metabolites can be successfully achieved using hair of human and mouse models. The overall goal of this short review article is to introduce current metabolomic technologies for the quantitative biomarker assay development and also to provide new insight into understanding the underlying mechanisms that trigger the pathological condition. Furthermore, this review will place a particular emphasis on how to prepare biospecimens (e.g., hair fiber), quantify molecular profiles and assess their clinical significance in various urological diseases.

Free access

Yasuhiro Nakamura, Takashi Suzuki, Masao Nakabayashi, Mareyuki Endoh, Kazuhiro Sakamoto, Yoshiki Mikami, Takuya Moriya, Akihiro Ito, Shoki Takahashi, Shogo Yamada, Yoichi Arai and Hironobu Sasano

Androgens have been proposed to be actively produced in situ in human prostate cancer. These locally produced androgens have also been considered to play important roles in the pathogenesis and development of prostate cancer. Therefore, it is important to examine the status of this in situ androgen metabolism and/or synthesis in detail in order to improve the clinical response to hormonal therapy in patients diagnosed with prostate cancer. Several studies have previously demonstrated the expression of androgen-producing enzymes such as 5α-reductase types 1 and 2, and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 5 (17β-HSD5), in human prostate carcinoma cells. However, their biological significance has remained largely unknown. In this study, we evaluated the immunoreactivities of these steroidogenic enzymes in human prostate cancer obtained from surgery (n=70), and correlated the findings with clinicopathological features of the patients. 17β-HSD5 immunoreactivity was detected in 54 cases (77%), 5α-reductase type 1 in 51 cases (73%) and 5α-reductase type 2 in 39 cases (56%). 5α-reductase type 2 immunoreactivity was significantly correlated with that of androgen receptor (AR), and 17β-HSD5 positive cases were significantly associated with clinical stage (TNM stage pT3 vs pT2). These data all suggest that androgen-producing enzymes, such as 5α-reductase type 1 and type 2, and 17β-HSD5 are expressed in a majority of prostate cancers, and are involved in the local production and actions of androgens in prostate cancers.