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Ales Vicha, David Taieb, and Karel Pacak

Warburg's metabolic hypothesis is based on the assumption that a cancer cell's respiration must be under attack, leading to its damage, in order to obtain increased glycolysis. Although this may not apply to all cancers, there is some evidence proving that primarily abnormally functioning mitochondrial complexes are indeed related to cancer development. Thus, mutations in complex II (succinate dehydrogenase (SDH)) lead to the formation of pheochromocytoma (PHEO)/paraganglioma (PGL). Mutations in one of the SDH genes (SDHx mutations) lead to succinate accumulation associated with very low fumarate levels, increased glutaminolysis, the generation of reactive oxygen species, and pseudohypoxia. This results in significant changes in signaling pathways (many of them dependent on the stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor), including oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, specific expression profiles, as well as genomic instability and increased mutability resulting in tumor development. Although there is currently no very effective therapy for SDHx-related metastatic PHEOs/PGLs, targeting their fundamental metabolic abnormalities may provide a unique opportunity for the development of novel and more effective forms of therapy for these tumors.

Free access

Frédéric Castinetti, Alexander Kroiss, Rakesh Kumar, Karel Pacak, and David Taieb

Although anatomic imaging to assess the precise localization of pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas (PHEOs/PGLs) is unavoidable before any surgical intervention on these tumors, functional imaging is becoming an inseparable portion of the imaging algorithm for these tumors. This review article presents applications of the most up-to-date functional imaging modalities and image-based treatment to PHEOs/PGLs patients. Functional imaging techniques provide whole-body localization (number of tumors present along with metastatic deposits) together with genetic-specific imaging approaches to PHEOs/PGLs, thus enabling highly specific and sensitive PHEO/PGL detection and delineation that now greatly impact the management of patients. Radionuclide imaging techniques also play a crucial role in the prediction of possible radioactive treatment options for PHEO/PGL. In contrast to previous imaging algorithms used for either assessement of these patients or their follow-up, endocrinologists, surgeons, oncologists, pediatricians, and other specialists require functional imaging before any therapeutic plan is outlined to the patient, and follow-up, especially in patients with metastatic disease, is based on the periodic use of functional imaging, often reducing or substituting for anatomical imaging. In similar specific indications, this will be further powered by using PET/MR in the assessment of these tumors. In the near future, it is expected that PHEO/PGL patients will benefit even more from an assessement of the functional characteristics of these tumors and new imaging-based treatment options. Finally, due to the use of new targeting moieties, gene-targeted radiotherapeutics and nanobodies-based theranostic approaches are expected to become a reality in the near future.

Free access

Carole Guerin, David Taieb, Giorgio Treglia, Thierry Brue, André Lacroix, Frederic Sebag, and Frederic Castinetti

Therapeutic options available for the treatment of Cushing's syndrome (CS) have expanded over the last 5 years. For instance, the efficient management of severe hypercortisolism using a combination of fast-acting steroidogenesis inhibitors has been reported. Recent publications on the long-term efficacy of drugs or radiation techniques have also demonstrated low toxicity. These data should encourage endocrinologists to reconsider the place of bilateral adrenalectomy in patients with ACTH-dependent aetiologies of CS; similarly, the indication of bilateral adrenalectomy is reassessed in primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia. The objective of this review is to compare the efficacy and side effects of the various therapeutic options of hypercortisolism with those of bilateral adrenalectomy, in order to better define its indications in the 21st century.

Free access

Carole Guerin, Pauline Romanet, David Taieb, Thierry Brue, André Lacroix, Frederic Sebag, Anne Barlier, and Frederic Castinetti

Over the last years, the knowledge of MEN2 and non-MEN2 familial forms of pheochromocytoma (PHEO) has increased. In MEN2, PHEO is the second most frequent disease: the penetrance and age at diagnosis depend on the mutation of RET. Given the prevalence of bilateral PHEO (50% by age 50), adrenal sparing surgery, aimed at sparing a part of the adrenal cortex to avoid adrenal insufficiency, should be systematically considered in patients with bilateral PHEO. Non-MEN2 familial forms of PHEO now include more than 20 genes: however, only small phenotypic series have been reported, suggesting that phenotypic features of isolated hereditary PHEO must be better explored, and follow-up series are needed to better understand the outcome of patients carrying mutations of these genes. The first part of this review will mainly focus on these points. In the second part, a focus will be given on MEN2 and non-MEN2 familial forms of hyperparathyroidism (HPTH). Again, the management of MEN2 HPTH should be aimed at curing the disease while preserving an optimal quality of life by a tailored parathyroidectomy. The phenotypes and outcome of MEN1-, MEN4- and HRPT2-related HPTH are briefly described, with a focus on the most recent literature data and is compared with familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia.

Free access

David Taïeb, Abhishek Jha, Giorgio Treglia, and Karel Pacak

In recent years, advancement in genetics has profoundly helped to gain a more comprehensive molecular, pathogenic, and prognostic picture of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs). Newly discovered molecular targets, particularly those that target cell membranes or signaling pathways have helped move nuclear medicine in the forefront of PPGL precision medicine. This is mainly based on the introduction and increasing experience of various PET radiopharmaceuticals across PPGL genotypes quickly followed by implementation of novel radiotherapies and revised imaging algorithms. Particularly, 68Ga-labeled-SSAs have shown excellent results in the diagnosis and staging of PPGLs and in selecting patients for PRRT as a potential alternative to 123/131I-MIBG theranostics. PRRT using 90Y/177Lu-DOTA-SSAs has shown promise for treatment of PPGLs with improvement of clinical symptoms and/or disease control. However, more well-designed prospective studies are required to confirm these findings, in order to fully exploit PRRT’s antitumoral properties to obtain the final FDA approval. Such an approval has recently been obtained for high‐specific-activity 131I-MIBG for inoperable/metastatic PPGL. The increasing experience and encouraging preliminary results of these radiotherapeutic approaches in PPGLs now raises an important question of how to further integrate them into PPGL management (e.g. monotherapy or in combination with other systemic therapies), carefully taking into account the PPGLs locations, genotypes, and growth rate. Thus, targeted radionuclide therapy (TRT) should preferably be performed at specialized centers with an experienced interdisciplinary team. Future perspectives include the introduction of dosimetry and biomarkers for therapeutic responses for more individualized treatment plans, α-emitting isotopes, and the combination of TRT with other systemic therapies.

Free access

Arthur Varoquaux, Electron Kebebew, Fréderic Sebag, Katherine Wolf, Jean-François Henry, Karel Pacak, and David Taïeb

The vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) is the main nerve of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. Vagal paragangliomas (VPGLs) are a prime example of an endocrine tumor associated with the vagus nerve. This rare, neural crest tumor constitutes the second most common site of hereditary head and neck paragangliomas (HNPGLs), most often in relation to mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit D (SDHD) gene. The treatment paradigm for VPGL has progressively shifted from surgery to abstention or therapeutic radiation with curative-like outcomes. Parathyroid tissue and parathyroid adenoma can also be found in close association with the vagus nerve in intra or paravagal situations. Vagal parathyroid adenoma can be identified with preoperative imaging or suspected intraoperatively by experienced surgeons. Vagal parathyroid adenomas located in the neck or superior mediastinum can be removed via initial cervicotomy, while those located in the aortopulmonary window require a thoracic approach. This review particularly emphasizes the embryology, molecular genetics, and modern imaging of these tumors.

Free access

David Taïeb, Christelle Fargette, Abhishek Jha, and Karel Pacak

Precision medicine (PM) aims to maximize the risk–benefit balance of medical decisions by integrating individual patient and disease characteristics. This approach is gaining increasing recognition from clinicians, healthcare systems, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and governments. Nuclear medicine plays a critical role in PM by its virtue of providing critical information at every step of disease management, digital markers, and companion diagnostics/therapeutics. It is anticipated that technological breakthroughs and new tracers will continue to position nuclear medicine among the significant players in PM.

Free access

Alexandru Saveanu, Mihaela Muresan, Catherine De Micco, David Taieb, Anne-Laure Germanetti, Frederic Sebag, Jean-François Henry, Laurent Brunaud, Alain Enjalbert, Georges Weryha, and Anne Barlier

While somatostatin receptors (sst), through somatostatin-radiolabeled analogs, are used, mainly in second line, in the diagnosis and treatment of pheochromocytomas (PCC) and paragangliomas (PGL), the clinical significance of dopamine receptor subtype 2 (D2) in PCC/PGL is unknown. Indeed, radiolabeled dopamine (DA) analogs such as fluorine 18 (18F)-DA, used for positron emission tomography in PCC localization, are mainly correlated to the presence of noradrenaline transporter (NAT) and vesicular monoamine transporters (VMAT) but not to D2. The aim of this study was to quantitate D2 and sst expression in 52 PCC/PGL and to compare it with that of 35 gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs). Quantitative RT-PCR of sst 1–3 and sst 5 , D2, NAT, VMAT1/2 was performed in all tumors, while immunohistochemistry analysis of sst2 and D2 was performed in seven tumors. D2 mRNA was expressed in all PCC/PGL. Mean expression was significantly higher in PCC/PGL than in GEP-NETs (4.8 vs 0.5 copy/copy β-glucuronidase (Gus)). sst2 and sst1 were expressed in most PCC/PGL, with sst2-dominant expression (mean mRNA: 1.6 vs 0.4 copy/copy β-Gus). sst2 expression level was similar to that of GEP-NETs, whereas sst5 expression level was significantly lower (0.12 vs 0.78 copy/copy β-Gus). Our study evidenced strong D2 mRNA expression in PCC and for the first time in PGL. PCC/PGL express sst 2 mRNA at levels similar to those of GEP-NETs. New drugs can target ssts and D2 more efficiently than current somatostatin analogs. Moreover, transporters like NAT and VMAT1/2, could be co-targeted with sst, as a basis of new radionuclide compounds in the imaging and treatment of these tumors.

Free access

Arthur Varoquaux, Yann le Fur, Alessio Imperiale, Antony Reyre, Marion Montava, Nicolas Fakhry, Izzie-Jacques Namer, Guy Moulin, Karel Pacak, Maxime Guye, and David Taïeb

Paragangliomas (PGLs) can be associated with mutations in genes of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle. Succinate dehydrogenase (SDHx) mutations are the prime examples of genetically determined TCA cycle defects with accumulation of succinate. Succinate, which acts as an oncometabolite, can be detected by ex vivo metabolomics approaches. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential role of proton magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy (1H-MRS) for identifying SDHx-related PGLs in vivo and noninvasively. Eight patients were prospectively evaluated with single voxel 1H-MRS. MR spectra from eight tumors (four SDHx-related PGLs, two sporadic PGLs, one cervical schwannoma, and one cervical neurofibroma) were acquired and interpreted qualitatively. Compared to other tumors, a succinate resonance peak was detected only in SDHx-related tumor patients. Spectra quality was considered good in three cases, medium in two cases, poor in two cases, and uninterpretable in the latter case. Smaller lesions had lower spectra quality compared to larger lesions. Jugular PGLs also exhibited a poorer spectra quality compared to other locations. 1H-MRS has always been challenging in terms of its technical requisites. This is even more true for the evaluation of head and neck tumors. However, 1H-MRS might be added to the classical MR sequences for metabolomic characterization of PGLs. In vivo detection of succinate might guide genetic testing, characterize SDHx variants of unknown significance (in the absence of available tumor sample), and even optimize a selection of appropriate therapies.

Open access

Helene Myrtue Nielsen, Alexandre How-Kit, Carole Guerin, Frederic Castinetti, Hans Kristian Moen Vollan, Catherine De Micco, Antoine Daunay, David Taieb, Peter Van Loo, Celine Besse, Vessela N Kristensen, Lise Lotte Hansen, Anne Barlier, Frederic Sebag, and Jörg Tost

Overexpression of insulin growth factor 2 (IGF2) is a hallmark of adrenocortical carcinomas and pheochromocytomas. Previous studies investigating the IGF2/H19 locus have mainly focused on a single molecular level such as genomic alterations or altered DNA methylation levels and the causal changes underlying IGF2 overexpression are still not fully established. In the current study, we analyzed 62 tumors of the adrenal gland from patients with Conn's adenoma (CA, n=12), pheochromocytomas (PCC, n=10), adrenocortical benign tumors (ACBT, n=20), and adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC, n=20). Gene expression, somatic copy number variation of chr11p15.5, and DNA methylation status of three differential methylated regions of the IGF2/H19 locus including the H19 imprinting control region were integratively analyzed. IGF2 overexpression was found in 85% of the ACCs and 100% of the PCCs compared to 23% observed in CAs and ACBTs. Copy number aberrations of chr11p15.5 were abundant in both PCCs and ACCs but while PCCs retained a diploid state, ACCs were frequently tetraploid (7/19). Loss of either a single allele or loss of two alleles of the same parental origin in tetraploid samples resulted in a uniparental disomy-like genotype. These copy number changes correlated with hypermethylation of the H19 ICR suggesting that the lost alleles were the unmethylated maternal alleles. Our data provide conclusive evidence that loss of the maternal allele correlates with IGF2 overexpression in adrenal tumors and that hypermethylation of the H19 ICR is a consequence thereof.