Prediction of malignant behaviour of pheochromocytomas/sympathetic paragangliomas (PCCs/PGLs) is very difficult if not impossible on a histopathological basis. In a familial setting, it is well known that succinate dehydrogenase subunit B (SDHB)-associated PCC/PGL very often metastasise. Recently, absence of SDHB expression as measured through immunohistochemistry was shown to be an excellent indicator of the presence of an SDH germline mutation in PCC/PGL. SDHB loss is believed to lead to tumour formation by activation of hypoxia signals. To clarify the potential use of SDHB immunohistochemistry as a marker of malignancy in PCC/PGL and its association with classic hypoxia signalling we examined SDHB, hypoxia inducible factor-1α (Hif-1α) and its targets CA-9 and GLUT-1 expression on protein level using immunohistochemistry on a tissue micro array on a series of familial and sporadic tumours of 115 patients. Survival data was available for 66 patients. SDHB protein expression was lost in the tumour tissue of 12 of 99 patients. Of those 12 patients, 5 had an SDHB germline mutation, in 4 patients no germline mutation was detected and mutational status remained unknown in parts in 3 patients. Loss of SDHB expression was not associated with increased classic hypoxia signalling as detected by Hif-1α, CA-9 or GLUT-1 staining. Loss of SDHB expression was associated with an adverse outcome. The lack of correlation of SDHB loss with classic hypoxia signals argues against the current hypoxia hypothesis in malignant PCC/PGL. We suggest SDHB protein loss as a marker of adverse outcome both in sporadic and in familial PCC/PGL.
Annika Blank, Anja M Schmitt, Esther Korpershoek, Francien van Nederveen, Thomas Rudolph, Nicole Weber, Räto Thomas Strebel, Ronald de Krijger, Paul Komminoth and Aurel Perren
Mieke E R Henfling, Aurel A Perren, Anja M Schmitt, Christiane M Saddig, Achim A Starke, Robert G Riedl, Yvonne M H Versleijen-Jonkers, Diana M Sprij-Mooij, Frans C S Ramaekers, Leo J Hofland and Ernst-Jan M Speel
Clinical and molecular studies have implicated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways in the regulation of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (PanNET) growth. Interpretation and comparison of these studies is complex due to clinical and molecular tumor heterogeneity. We therefore focused in this study on insulinomas, which we examined for mRNA and protein expression of EGFR, IGF and mTOR signaling pathway components by quantitative real-time PCR (n = 48) and immunohistochemistry (n = 86). Findings were compared with normal pancreatic islets and correlated with histopathological data and clinical outcome. Insulinomas showed low EGFR and high IGF2 expression. IGFBP2, IGFBP3 and IGFBP6 mRNA levels were 2- to 4-folds higher than those in islets. High protein expression of IGF2, IGF1R and INSR (in 51–92% of the tumors) and low-to-moderate expression of mTORC1 pathway proteins p-S6k and p-4EBP1 (7–28% of the tumors) were observed. Correlations were found between (1) ERK1 mRNA expression and that of numerous IGF pathway genes, (2) p-ERK and IGF1R protein expression and (3) decrease of IGF pathway components and both metastatic disease and shorter 10-year disease-free survival. In conclusion, our observations suggest that high expression of IGF signaling pathway components is a hallmark of insulinomas, but does not necessarily lead to increased mTOR signaling. Reduced expression of IGF pathway components may be an adverse prognostic factor in insulinomas.