Pituitary adenomas are unique in multiple ways. They are rarely malignant in terms of metastases; yet, they may be aggressive. Their cancerous potential is defined in a classic oncological way by the ability to metastasise, and therefore, it has been crucial to differentiate this process from aggressive behaviour, characterised as a particularly invasive and/or recurrent behaviour and resistance to common modalities of therapy. Recently, however, important changes have been introduced to the diagnosis and management of aggressive and malignant pituitary tumours including the 4th edition of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification for endocrine tumours (2017) as well as ESE Clinical Guidelines (2018), although an attempt to establish predictive and/or prognostic markers of clinical aggressiveness remains difficult. In this review, we focus on a group of pituitary tumours causing significant problems in clinical practice and requiring multidisciplinary input. We summarise updates in definitions of tumour invasiveness, aggressiveness and malignant transformation, as well as histological classification, and emphasise the new considerations regarding aggressive and malignant potential and its relationship to therapeutic strategies.
Dorota Dworakowska and Ashley B Grossman
Dorota Dworakowska and Ashley B Grossman
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant multisystem disorder characterised by the development of multiple hamartomas in numerous organs. It is caused by mutations of two tumour suppressor genes, TSC1 on chromosome 9q34 and TSC2 on chromosome 16p13.3, which encode for hamartin and tuberin respectively. The interaction between these two proteins, the tuberin–hamartin complex, has been shown to be critical to multiple intracellular signalling pathways, especially those controlling cell growth and proliferation. TSC may affect skin, central nervous system, kidneys, heart, eyes, blood vessels, lung, bone and gastrointestinal tract. Small series and case reports have documented that in tuberous sclerosis patients many endocrine system alterations might occur, affecting the function of the pituitary, parathyroid and other neuroendocrine tissue. There have been scattered reports of the involvement of such tissue in the pathological process of TSC, but no systematic review as to whether this is a true association. We have therefore systematically assessed all available published literature in this area. We conclude that there may be an association with pituitary and parathyroid tumours, and two recent descriptions of Cushing's disease are especially intriguing. However, the evidence seems more firm in the case of islet cell tumours, particularly insulinomas. As these latter may cause changes in mental state that may be confused with the cerebral manifestations of TSC per se, it is particularly important for physicians working with these patients to be aware of the putative and indeed likely association.
Cristina Capatina, Georgia Ntali, Niki Karavitaki and Ashley B Grossman
Paragangliomas (PGLs) are tumours originating from neural crest-derived cells situated in the region of the autonomic nervous system ganglia. Head-and-neck PGLs (HNPGLs) originate from the sympathetic and parasympathetic paraganglia, most frequently from the carotid bodies and jugular, tympanic and vagal paraganglia, and are usually non-catecholamine secreting. Familial PGLs are considered to be rare, but recently genetic syndromes including multiple PGLs and/or phaeochromocytomas have been more thoroughly characterised. Nowadays, genetic screening for the genes frequently implicated in both familial and sporadic cases is routinely being recommended. HNPGLs are mostly benign, generally slow-growing tumours. Continuous growth leads to the involvement of adjacent neurovascular structures with increased morbidity rates and treatment-related complications. Optimal management mostly depends on tumour location, local involvement of neurovascular structures, estimated malignancy risk, patient age and general health. Surgery is the only treatment option offering the chance of cure but with significant morbidity rates, so a more conservative approach is usually considered, especially in the more difficult cases. Radiotherapy (fractionated or stereotactic radiosurgery) leads to tumour growth arrest and symptomatic improvement in the short term in many cases, but the long-term consequences are unclear. Early detection is essential in order to increase the chance of cure with a lower morbidity rate. The constant improvement in diagnostic imaging, surgical and radiation techniques has led to a safer management of these tumours, but there are still many therapeutic challenges, and no treatment algorithm has been agreed upon until now. The management of HNPGLs requires a multidisciplinary effort addressing the genetic, surgical, radiotherapeutic, oncological, neurological and endocrinological implications. Further progress in the understanding of their pathogenesis will lead to more effective screening and earlier diagnosis, both critical to successful treatment.
Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Ilan Shimon, Márta Korbonits and Ashley B Grossman
Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) represent a heterogeneous family of neoplasms, which may develop from different endocrine glands (such as the pituitary, the parathyroid or the neuroendocrine adrenal glands), endocrine islets (within the thyroid or pancreas) as well as from endocrine cells dispersed between exocrine cells throughout the digestive and respiratory tracts. The development of somatostatin analogues (SSA) as important diagnostic and treatment tools has revolutionised the clinical management of patients with NETs. However, although symptomatic relief and stabilisation of tumour growth for various periods of time are observed in many patients treated with SSA, tumour regression is rare. Possible mechanisms when this does occur include antagonism of local growth factor release and effects, probably including activation of tyrosine and serine–threonine phosphatases, and indirect effects via anti-angiogenesis. The development of new SSA, new drug combination therapies and chimaeric molecules should further improve the clinical management of these patients, as should a more complete understanding of their mode of action.
Alexandra Chrisoulidou, Gregory Kaltsas, Ioannis Ilias and Ashley B Grossman
Malignant phaeochromocytomas are rare tumours accounting for ~10% of all phaeochromocytomas; the prevalence of malignancy among paragangliomas is higher, especially those associated with succinate dehydrogenase subunit B gene mutations. Although a subset of these tumours has metastatic disease at initial presentation, a significant number develops metastases during follow-up after excision of an apparently benign tumour. Clinical, biochemical and histological features cannot reliably distinguish malignant from benign tumours. Although a number of recently introduced molecular markers have been explored, their clinical significance remains to be elucidated from further studies. Several imaging modalities have been utilised for the diagnosis and staging of these tumours. Functional imaging using radiolabelled metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) and more recently, 18F-fluorodopamine and 18F-fluorodopa positron emission tomography offer substantial sensitivity and specificity to correctly detect metastatic phaeochromocytoma and paraganglioma and helps identify patients suitable for treatment with radiopharmaceuticals. The 5-year mortality rate of patients with malignant phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas greater than 50% indicates that there is considerable room for the improvement of currently available therapies. The main therapeutic target is tumour reduction and control of symptoms of excessive catecholamine secretion. Currently, the best adjunctive therapy to surgery is treatment with radiopharmaceuticals using 131I-MIBG; however, this is very rarely curative. Chemotherapy has been used for metastatic disease with only a partial and mainly palliative effect. The role of other forms of radionuclide treatment either alone or in combination with chemotherapy is currently evolving. Ongoing microarray studies may provide novel intracellular pathways of importance for proliferation/cell cycle control, and lead to the development of novel pharmacological agents.
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.
Gregory Kaltsas, Ioannis I Androulakis, Wouter W de Herder and Ashley B Grossman
Neuroendocrine tumours may be either benign or malignant tumours, and have the ability to synthesise and secrete biologically active substances characteristic of the cell of origin that can cause distinct clinical syndromes. The term ‘paraneoplastic syndromes’ (PNSs) is used to denote syndromes secondary to substances secreted from tumours not related to their specific organ or tissue of origin and/or production of autoantibodies against tumour cells; such syndromes are mainly associated with hormonal and neurological symptoms. Appreciation of the presence of such syndromes is important as clinical presentation, if not identified, may delay the diagnosis of the underlying neoplasia. Conversely, early recognition can allow for more rapid diagnosis, particularly as the coexistence of a neoplasm with a clinical or biochemical marker offers an additional determinant of tumour status/progression. PNSs can complicate the patient's clinical course, response to treatment, impact prognosis and even be confused as metastatic spread. Their diagnosis involves a multidisciplinary approach, and detailed endocrinological, neurological, radiological and histological studies are required. Correct diagnosis is essential as the treatment of choice will be different for each disorder, particularly in the case of malignant tumours; it is therefore important to develop appropriate means to correctly identify and localise these tumours. Clinical awareness and the incorporation into clinical practise of 111In-octreotide scintigraphy, chromogranin A and other evolving biochemical marker measurement techniques have substantially contributed to the identification of patients harbouring such syndromes. Disease-specific medical therapies are mandatory in order to prevent recurrence and/or further tumour growth. Owing to their rarity, central registration of these syndromes is very helpful in order to be able to provide evidence-based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
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.
Ioannis Ilias, Anju Sahdev, Rodney H Reznek, Ashley B Grossman and Karel Pacak
Computed tomography (CT; unenhanced, followed by contrast-enhanced examinations) is the cornerstone of imaging of adrenal tumours. Attenuation values of <10 Hounsfield units on an unenhanced CT are practically diagnostic for adenomas. When lesions cannot be characterised adequately with CT, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation (with T1- and T2-weighted sequences and chemical shift and fat-suppression refinements) is sought. Functional nuclear medicine imaging is useful for adrenal lesions that are not adequately characterised with CT and MRI. Scintigraphy with [131I]-6-iodomethyl norcholesterol (a labelled cholesterol analogue) can differentiate adrenal cortical adenomas from carcinomas. Phaeochromocytomas appear as areas of abnormal and/or increased uptake of [123I]- and [131I]-meta-iodobenzylguanidine (a labelled noradrenaline analogue). The specific and useful roles of adrenal imaging include the characterisation of tumours, assessment of true tumour size, differentiation of adenomas from carcinomas and metastases, and differentiation of hyperfunctioning from non-functioning lesions. Adrenal imaging complements and assists the clinical and hormonal evaluation of adrenal tumours.
Antônio Ribeiro-Oliveira Jr, Giulia Franchi, Blerina Kola, Paolo Dalino, Sérgio Veloso Brant Pinheiro, Nabila Salahuddin, Madalina Musat, Miklós I Góth, Sándor Czirják, Zoltán Hanzély, Deivid Augusto da Silva, Eduardo Paulino Jr, Ashley B Grossman and Márta Korbonits
The molecular analysis of pituitary tumours has received a great deal of attention, although the majority of studies have concentrated on the genome and the transcriptome. We aimed to study the proteome of human pituitary adenomas. A protein array using 1005 monoclonal antibodies was used to study GH-, corticotrophin- and prolactin-secreting as well as non-functioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs). Individual protein expression levels in the tumours were compared with the expression profile of normal pituitary tissue. Out of 316 proteins that were detected in the pituitary tissue samples, 116 proteins had not previously been described in human pituitary tissue. Four prominent differentially expressed proteins with potential importance to tumorigenesis were chosen for validation by immunohistochemistry and western blotting. In the protein array analysis heat shock protein 110 (HSP110), a chaperone associated with protein folding, and B2 bradykinin receptor, a potential regulator of prolactin secretion, were significantly overexpressed in all adenoma subtypes, while C-terminal Src kinase (CSK), an inhibitor of proto-oncogenic enzymes, and annexin II, a calcium-dependent binding protein, were significantly underexpressed in all adenoma subtypes. The immunohistochemical analysis confirmed the overexpression of HSP110 and B2 bradykinin receptor and underexpression of CSK and annexin II in pituitary adenoma cells when compared with their corresponding normal pituitary cells. Western blotting only partially confirmed the proteomics data: HSP110 was significantly overexpressed in prolactinomas and NFPAs, the B2 bradykinin receptor was significantly overexpressed in prolactinomas, annexin II was significantly underexpressed in somatotrophinomas, while CSK did not show significant underexpression in any tumour. Protein expression analysis of pituitary samples disclosed both novel proteins and putative protein candidates for pituitary tumorigenesis, though validation using conventional techniques are necessary to confirm the protein array data.