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G A Kaltsas, D Papadogias, P Makras and A B Grossman

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) constitute a heterogeneous group of tumours that frequently express cell membrane-specific peptide receptors, such as somatostatin receptors (SSTRs), and of which gastroenteropancreatic (GEP), carcinoid and pancreatic islet cell tumours exhibit the highest expression of SSTRs. Radiolabelled receptor-binding somatostatin analogues (octreotide and lanreotide) act as vehicles to guide radioactivity to tissues expressing SSTRs, and can thus be used for their diagnosis and treatment. After the localization of NETs bearing SSTRs with 111In-octreotide (OctreoScan), a number of radioisotopes with different physical properties have been used for their treatment. The administration of high doses of the Auger electron and γ-emitter 111In-diethylenetriaminepenta-acetic acid (DTPA)0,octreotide in patients with metastatic tumours has been associated with considerable symptomatic improvement but relatively few and short-lived objective tumour responses. The use of another radiolabelled somatostatin analogue coupled with 90Y, a pure β-emitter, 90Y-1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N′,N″,N‴-tetraacetic acid (DOTA)0,Tyr3,octreotide (90Y-DOTATOC, OctreoTher), was associated with 10–30% objective tumour response rates, and appears to be particularly effective in larger tumours. 111In- and 90Y-DOTA-lanreotide has also been used for the treatment of NETs although its therapeutic efficacy is probably inferior to that of octreotide-based radiopharmaceuticals. More recently, treatment with 177Lu-DOTA0,Tyr3octreotate (177Lu-DOTATATE), which has a higher affinity for the SSTR subtype 2, resulted in approximately 30% complete or partial tumour responses; this radiopharmaceutical is particularly effective in smaller tumours. Furthermore, treatment using both 90Y-DOTATOC and 177Lu-DOTA0,Tyr3octreotate seems promising, as the combination of these radiopharmaceuticals could be effective in tumours bearing both small and large lesions. Tumour regression is positively correlated with a high level of uptake on 111In-octreotide scintigraphy, limited tumour mass and good performance status. In general, better responses have been obtained in GEP tumours than other NETs. The side effects of this form of therapy are relatively few and mild, particularly when kidney-protective agents are used. Treatment with radiolabelled somatostatin analogues presents a promising tool for the management of patients with inoperable or disseminated NETs, and particularly GEP tumours.

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H Surchi, B Jafar-Mohammadi, A Pal, S Cudlip and A B Grossman

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V V Vax, M Gueorguiev, I I Dedov, A B Grossman and M Korbonits

The oncogenes and/or tumour suppressor genes which may be involved in the transformation process for the vast majority of pituitary tumours remain unknown. There is substantial evidence for derangement of cell cycle control in such tumours, but cell cycle protein mutations identified in other human malignancies are restricted to only a very small subset of sporadic pituitary neoplasms. Krüppel-like factors are DNA-binding transcriptional regulators with diverse effects including the upregulation of the cell cycle protein p21(WAF1/CIP1). It has been reported that the Krüppel-like transcription factor 6 (KLF6) gene is mutated in a proportion (15-55%) of human prostate cancers, and more recent data are emerging regarding mutated KLF6 in nasopharyngeal carcinomas, astrocytoid gliomas and colorectal cancer. We therefore speculated that other tumours such as pituitary adenomas might also harbour such mutations that may be involved in the control of cell proliferation in the pituitary. The aim of the current study was thus to analyse the KLF6 gene for mutations in sporadic pituitary tumours. We analysed 60 pituitary adenomas (15 GH-, four ACTH-, two PRL-secreting and 39 non-functioning) with direct sequence analysis of exons 2 and 3 of the KLF6 gene, the region where most of the previously described mutations are located. Three non-functioning pituitary adenomas of the 60 pituitary tumours (5%) had two identical sequence changes in exon 2 (missense mutation Val165Met, 523G-->A and a silent substitution in Ser77Ser codon 261C-->T). Analysis of genomic DNA extracted from peripheral lymphocytes in one patient confirmed these changes to be present in the germline and they therefore probably represent polymorphisms, although we cannot exclude the possibility that these are predisposing germline mutations. We conclude that mutations of the KLF6 gene are unlikely to play an important role in sporadic pituitary tumorigenesis.

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Gregory A Kaltsas, Jane Evanson, Alexandra Chrisoulidou and Ashley B Grossman

The sellar and parasellar region is an anatomically complex area where a number of neoplastic, inflammatory, infectious, developmental and vascular diseases can develop. Although most sellar lesions are due to pituitary adenomas, a number of other pathologies involving the parasellar region can present in a similar manner. The diagnosis of such lesions involves a multidisciplinary approach, and detailed endocrinological, ophthalmological, neuroimaging, neurological and finally histological studies are required. Correct diagnosis prior to any intervention is essential as the treatment of choice will be different for each disorder, particularly in the case of primary malignant parasellar tumours. The complexity of structures that define the parasellar region can produce a variety of neoplastic processes, the malignant potential of which relies on histological grading. In the majority of parasellar tumours, a multimodal therapeutic approach is frequently necessary including surgery, radiotherapy, primary or adjuvant medical treatment and replacement of apparent endocrine deficits. Disease-specific medical therapies are mandatory in order to prevent recurrence or further tumour growth. This is particularly important as neoplastic lesions of the parasellar region tend to recur after prolonged follow-up, even when optimally treated. Apart from the type of treatment, identification of clinical and radiological features that could predict patients with different prognosis seems necessary in order to identify high-risk patients. Due to their rarity, central registration of parasellar tumours is required in order to be able to provide evidence-based diagnostic and mainly therapeutic approaches.

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Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Eleftherios Chatzellis and Ashley B Grossman

Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine neoplasms (GI-NENs) are increasingly being recognised, while appendiceal NENs (aNENs) currently constitute the third most common GI-NEN. Appendiceal NENs are generally considered to follow an indolent course with the majority being localised at diagnosis. Thus, the initial surgical approach is not that of a planned oncological resection. Due to the localised nature of the disease in the majority of cases, subsequent biochemical and radiological assessment are not routinely recommended. Histopathological criteria (size, mesoappendiceal invasion, Ki-67 proliferation index, neuro- and angio-invasion) are mainly used to identify those patients who are also candidates for a right hemicolectomy. Goblet cell carcinoids are a distinct entity and should be treated as adenocarcinomas. Despite the absence of any substantial prospective data regarding optimal management and follow-up, recent consensus statements and guidelines have been published. The purpose of this review is to overview the published studies on the diagnosis and management of appendiceal NENs and to suggest a possible management protocol.

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D Dworakowska, E Wlodek, C A Leontiou, S Igreja, M Cakir, M Teng, N Prodromou, M I Góth, S Grozinsky-Glasberg, M Gueorguiev, B Kola, M Korbonits and A B Grossman

Raf/MEK/ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) cascades are key signalling pathways interacting with each other to regulate cell growth and tumourigenesis. We have previously shown B-Raf and Akt overexpression and/or overactivation in pituitary adenomas. The aim of this study is to assess the expression of their downstream components (MEK1/2, ERK1/2, mTOR, TSC2, p70S6K) and effectors (c-MYC and CYCLIN D1). We studied tissue from 16 non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs), six GH-omas, six prolactinomas and six ACTH-omas, all collected at transsphenoidal surgery; 16 normal autopsy pituitaries were used as controls. The expression of phospho and total protein was assessed with western immunoblotting, and the mRNA expression with quantitative RT-PCR. The expression of pSer217/221 MEK1/2 and pThr183 ERK1/2 (but not total MEK1/2 or ERK1/2) was significantly higher in all tumour subtypes in comparison to normal pituitaries. There was no difference in the expression of phosphorylated/total mTOR, TSC2 or p70S6K between pituitary adenomas and controls. Neither c-MYC phosphorylation at Ser 62 nor total c-MYC was changed in the tumours. However, c-MYC phosphorylation at Thr58/Ser62 (a response target for Akt) was decreased in all tumour types. CYCLIN D1 expression was higher only in NFPAs. The mRNA expression of MEK1, MEK2, ERK1, ERK2, c-MYC and CCND1 was similar in all groups. Our data indicate that in pituitary adenomas both the Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways are upregulated in their initial cascade, implicating a pro-proliferative signal derangement upstream to their point of convergence. However, we speculate that other processes, such as senescence, attenuate the changes downstream in these benign tumours.

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M Muşat, M Korbonits, B Kola, N Borboli, M R Hanson, A M Nanzer, J Grigson, S Jordan, D G Morris, M Gueorguiev, M Coculescu, S Basuand and A B Grossman

Pituitary tumours have previously been shown to harbour several abnormalities that cause deregulation of the cell cycle, particularly down-regulation of expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27. However, it has been unclear whether these are the primary initiating events, or are secondary to other more proximate alterations in signalling pathways. In other cellular systems the Akt signalling pathway has been associated with downstream modulation of cell-cycle control. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that Akt signalling is enhanced in pituitary tumours, and to see if changes in Akt expression are related to previous findings on low expression levels of the nuclear cell-cycle inhibitor p27 in pituitary tumours. We examined normal and adenomatous human pituitary tissue for mRNA and protein expression of Akt1, Akt2 and p27, and the activation of Akt, as well the phosphatase involved in the inactivation of Akt, phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN). In pituitary adenomas Akt1 and Akt2 mRNA were found to be over-expressed compared with normal pituitary, while PTEN transcripts showed similar levels between the two tissue types. Immunohistochemical expression of phospho-Akt was found to be higher in the tumours than normal pituitaries, while the protein expression of nuclear p27 and PTEN was lower in the adenomas. However, the expression of p27 and Akt were not directly correlated. PTEN sequencing revealed no mutation in the coding region of the gene in pituitary adenomas, and thus we did not locate a cause for the increased phosphorylation of Akt. In summary, we have shown over-expression and activation of the Akt pathway in pituitary tumours, and we speculate that cell-cycle changes observed in such tumours are secondary to these more proximate alterations. Since Akt is a major downstream signalling molecule of growth factor-liganded tyrosine kinase receptors, our data are most compatible with an abnormality at this level as the primary driver of pituitary tumorigenesis.

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Umasuthan Srirangalingam, Bernard Khoo, Lisa Walker, Fiona MacDonald, Robert H Skelly, Emad George, David Spooner, Linda B Johnston, John P Monson, Ashley B Grossman, W M Drake, Scott A Akker, Patrick J Pollard, Nick Plowman, Norbert Avril, Daniel M Berney, Jacky M Burrin, Rodney H Reznek, V K Ajith Kumar, Eamonn R Maher and Shern L Chew

Mutations in succinate dehydrogense-B (SDHB) and the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) genes result in an increased risk of developing chromaffin tumours via a common aetiological pathway. The aim of the present retrospective study was to compare the clinical phenotypes of disease in subjects developing chromaffin tumours as a result of SDHB mutations or VHL disease. Thirty-one subjects with chromaffin tumours were assessed; 16 subjects had SDHB gene mutations and 15 subjects had a diagnosis of VHL. VHL-related tumours were predominantly adrenal phaeochromocytomas (22/26; 84.6%), while SDHB-related tumours were predominantly extra-adrenal paragangliomas (19/25; 76%). Median age at onset of the first chromaffin tumour was similar in the two cohorts. Tumour size was significantly larger in the SDHB cohort in comparison with the VHL cohort (P=0.002). Multifocal disease was present in 9/15 (60%) of the VHL cohort (bilateral phaeochromocytomas) and only 3/16 (19%) of the SDHB cohort, while metastatic disease was found in 5/16 (31%) of the SDHB cohort but not in the VHL cohort to date. The frequency of symptoms, hypertension and the magnitude of catecholamine secretion appeared to be greater in the SDHB cohort. Renal cell carcinomas were a feature in 5/15 (33%) of the VHL cohort and 1/16 (6%) of the SDHB cohort. These data indicate that SDHB-related tumours are predominantly extra-adrenal in location and associated with higher catecholamine secretion and more malignant disease, in subjects who appear more symptomatic. VHL-related tumours tend to be adrenal phaeochromocytomas, frequently bilateral and associated with a milder phenotype.

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S L Asa, O Casar-Borota, P Chanson, E Delgrange, P Earls, S Ezzat, A Grossman, H Ikeda, N Inoshita, N Karavitaki, M Korbonits, E R Laws Jr, M B Lopes, N Maartens, I E McCutcheon, O Mete, H Nishioka, G Raverot, F Roncaroli, W Saeger, L V Syro, A Vasiljevic, C Villa, A Wierinckx, J Trouillas and and the attendees of 14th Meeting of the International Pituitary Pathology Club, Annecy, France, November 2016

The classification of neoplasms of adenohypophysial cells is misleading because of the simplistic distinction between adenoma and carcinoma, based solely on metastatic spread and the poor reproducibility and predictive value of the definition of atypical adenomas based on the detection of mitoses or expression of Ki-67 or p53. In addition, the current classification of neoplasms of the anterior pituitary does not accurately reflect the clinical spectrum of behavior. Invasion and regrowth of proliferative lesions and persistence of hormone hypersecretion cause significant morbidity and mortality. We propose a new terminology, pituitary neuroendocrine tumor (PitNET), which is consistent with that used for other neuroendocrine neoplasms and which recognizes the highly variable impact of these tumors on patients.