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Aguirre A de Cubas, L Javier Leandro-García, Francesca Schiavi, Veronika Mancikova, Iñaki Comino-Méndez, Lucía Inglada-Pérez, Manuel Perez-Martinez, Nuria Ibarz, Pilar Ximénez-Embún, Elena López-Jiménez, Agnieszka Maliszewska, Rocío Letón, Álvaro Gómez Graña, Carmen Bernal, Cristina Álvarez-Escolá, Cristina Rodríguez-Antona, Giuseppe Opocher, Javier Muñoz, Diego Megias, Alberto Cascón and Mercedes Robledo

Pheochromocytomas (PCCs) and paragangliomas (PGLs) are rare neuroendocrine neoplasias of neural crest origin that can be part of several inherited syndromes. Although their mRNA profiles are known to depend on genetic background, a number of questions related to tumor biology and clinical behavior remain unanswered. As microRNAs (miRNAs) are key players in the modulation of gene expression, their comprehensive analysis could resolve some of these issues. Through characterization of miRNA profiles in 69 frozen tumors with germline mutations in the genes SDHD, SDHB, VHL, RET, NF1, TMEM127, and MAX, we identified miRNA signatures specific to, as well as common among, the genetic groups of PCCs/PGLs. miRNA expression profiles were validated in an independent series of 30 composed of VHL-, SDHB-, SDHD-, and RET-related formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded PCC/PGL samples using quantitative real-time PCR. Upregulation of miR-210 in VHL- and SDHB-related PCCs/PGLs was verified, while miR-137 and miR-382 were confirmed as generally upregulated in PCCs/PGLs (except in MAX-related tumors). Also, we confirmed overexpression of miR-133b as VHL-specific miRNAs, miR-488 and miR-885-5p as RET-specific miRNAs, and miR-183 and miR-96 as SDHB-specific miRNAs. To determine the potential roles miRNAs play in PCC/PGL pathogenesis, we performed bioinformatic integration and pathway analysis using matched mRNA profiling data that indicated a common enrichment of pathways associated with neuronal and neuroendocrine-like differentiation. We demonstrated that miR-183 and/or miR-96 impede NGF-induced differentiation in PC12 cells. Finally, global proteomic analysis in SDHB and MAX tumors allowed us to determine that miRNA regulation occurs primarily through mRNA degradation in PCCs/PGLs, which partially confirmed our miRNA–mRNA integration results.

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Birke Bausch, Ulrich Wellner, Dirk Bausch, Francesca Schiavi, Marta Barontini, Gabriela Sanso, Martin K Walz, Mariola Peczkowska, Georges Weryha, Patrizia Dall'Igna, Giovanni Cecchetto, Gianni Bisogno, Lars C Moeller, Detlef Bockenhauer, Attila Patocs, Karoly Rácz, Dmitry Zabolotnyi, Svetlana Yaremchuk, Iveta Dzivite-Krisane, Frederic Castinetti, David Taieb, Angelica Malinoc, Ernst von Dobschuetz, Jochen Roessler, Kurt W Schmid, Giuseppe Opocher, Charis Eng and Hartmut P H Neumann

A third of patients with paraganglial tumors, pheochromocytoma, and paraganglioma, carry germline mutations in one of the susceptibility genes, RET, VHL, NF1, SDHAF2, SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, TMEM127, and MAX. Despite increasing importance, data for long-term prognosis are scarce in pediatric presentations. The European-American-Pheochromocytoma–Paraganglioma-Registry, with a total of 2001 patients with confirmed paraganglial tumors, was the platform for this study. Molecular genetic and phenotypic classification and assessment of gene-specific long-term outcome with second and/or malignant paraganglial tumors and life expectancy were performed in patients diagnosed at <18 years. Of 177 eligible registrants, 80% had mutations, 49% VHL, 15% SDHB, 10% SDHD, 4% NF1, and one patient each in RET, SDHA, and SDHC. A second primary paraganglial tumor developed in 38% with increasing frequency over time, reaching 50% at 30 years after initial diagnosis. Their prevalence was associated with hereditary disease (P=0.001), particularly in VHL and SDHD mutation carriers (VHL vs others, P=0.001 and SDHD vs others, P=0.042). A total of 16 (9%) patients with hereditary disease had malignant tumors, ten at initial diagnosis and another six during follow-up. The highest prevalence was associated with SDHB (SDHB vs others, P<0.001). Eight patients died (5%), all of whom had germline mutations. Mean life expectancy was 62 years with hereditary disease. Hereditary disease and the underlying germline mutation define the long-term prognosis of pediatric patients in terms of prevalence and time of second primaries, malignant transformation, and survival. Based on these data, gene-adjusted, specific surveillance guidelines can help effective preventive medicine.

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Ernst von Dobschuetz, Helena Leijon, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, Francesca Schiavi, Michael Brauckhoff, Mariola Peczkowska, Giovanna Spiazzi, Serena Demattè, Maria Enrica Cecchini, Paola Sartorato, Jolanta Krajewska, Kornelia Hasse-Lazar, Katarzyna Roszkowska-Purska, Elisa Taschin, Angelica Malinoc, Lars A Akslen, Johanna Arola, Dariusz Lange, Ambrogio Fassina, Gianmaria Pennelli, Mattia Barbareschi, Jutta Luettges, Aleksander Prejbisz, Andrzej Januszewicz, Tim Strate, Birke Bausch, Frederic Castinetti, Barbara Jarzab, Giuseppe Opocher, Charis Eng and Hartmut P H Neumann

The precise diagnosis of thyroid neoplasias will guide surgical management. Primary thyroid paraganglioma has been rarely reported. Data on prevalence, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and molecular genetics in a systematic series of such patients are pending. We performed a multinational population-based study on thyroid paraganglioma and analyzed prevalence, IHC, and molecular genetics. Patients with thyroid paraganglioma were recruited from the European-American-Head-and-Neck-Paraganglioma-Registry. Demographic and clinical data were registered. Histopathology and IHC were re-investigated. All patients with thyroid paraganglioma underwent molecular genetic analyses of the SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, SDHAF2, VHL, RET, TMEM127, and MAX genes. Analyses included Sanger sequencing and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) for detection of large rearrangements. Of 947 registrants, eight candidates were initially identified. After immunohistochemical analyses of these eight subjects, 5 (0.5%) were confirmed to have thyroid paraganglioma. IHC was positive for chromogranin, synaptophysin, and S-100 and negative for calcitonin in all five thyroid paragangliomas, whereas the three excluded candidate tumors stained positive for pan-cytokeratin, a marker excluding endocrine tumors. Germline variants, probably representing mutations, were found in four of the five confirmed thyroid paraganglioma cases, two each in SDHA and SDHB, whereas the excluded cases had no mutations in the tested genes. Thyroid paraganglioma is a finite entity, which must be differentiated from medullary thyroid carcinoma, because medical, surgical, and genetic management for each is different. Notably, approximately 80% of thyroid paragangliomas are associated with germline variants, with implications for additional tumors and a potential risk for the family. As opposed to sporadic tumors, surgical management and extent of resection are different for heritable tumors, each guided by the precise gene involved.

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Hartmut P Neumann, William F Young Jr, Tobias Krauss, Jean-Pierre Bayley, Francesca Schiavi, Giuseppe Opocher, Carsten C Boedeker, Amit Tirosh, Frederic Castinetti, Juri Ruf, Dmitry Beltsevich, Martin Walz, Harald-Thomas Groeben, Ernst von Dobschuetz, Oliver Gimm, Nelson Wohllk, Marija Pfeifer, Delmar M Lourenço Jr, Mariola Peczkowska, Attila Patocs, Joanne Ngeow, Özer Makay, Nalini S Shah, Arthur Tischler, Helena Leijon, Gianmaria Pennelli, Karina Villar Gómez de las Heras, Thera P Links, Birke Bausch and Charis Eng

Although the authors of the present review have contributed to genetic discoveries in the field of pheochromocytoma research, we can legitimately ask whether these advances have led to improvements in the diagnosis and management of patients with pheochromocytoma. The answer to this question is an emphatic Yes! In the field of molecular genetics, the well-established axiom that familial (genetic) pheochromocytoma represents 10% of all cases has been overturned, with >35% of cases now attributable to germline disease-causing mutations. Furthermore, genetic pheochromocytoma can now be grouped into five different clinical presentation types in the context of the ten known susceptibility genes for pheochromocytoma-associated syndromes. We now have the tools to diagnose patients with genetic pheochromocytoma, identify germline mutation carriers and to offer gene-informed medical management including enhanced surveillance and prevention. Clinically, we now treat an entire family of tumors of the paraganglia, with the exact phenotype varying by specific gene. In terms of detection and classification, simultaneous advances in biochemical detection and imaging localization have taken place, and the histopathology of the paraganglioma tumor family has been revised by immunohistochemical-genetic classification by gene-specific antibody immunohistochemistry. Treatment options have also been substantially enriched by the application of minimally invasive and adrenal-sparing surgery. Finally and most importantly, it is now widely recognized that patients with genetic pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma syndromes should be treated in specialized centers dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and surveillance of this rare neoplasm.

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Tobias Krauss, Alfonso Massimiliano Ferrara, Thera P Links, Ulrich Wellner, Irina Bancos, Andrey Kvachenyuk, Karina Villar Gómez de las Heras, Marina Y Yukina, Roman Petrov, Garrett Bullivant, Laura von Duecker, Swati Jadhav, Ursula Ploeckinger, Staffan Welin, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, Oliver Gimm, Marija Pfeifer, Joanne Ngeow, Kornelia Hasse-Lazar, Gabriela Sansó, Xiaoping Qi, M Umit Ugurlu, Rene E Diaz, Nelson Wohllk, Mariola Peczkowska, Jens Aberle, Delmar M Lourenço Jr, Maria A A Pereira, Maria C B V Fragoso, Ana O Hoff, Madson Q Almeida, Alice H D Violante, Ana R P Quidute, Zhewei Zhang, Mònica Recasens, Luis Robles Díaz, Tada Kunavisarut, Taweesak Wannachalee, Sirinart Sirinvaravong, Eric Jonasch, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Merav Fraenkel, Dmitry Beltsevich, Viacheslav I Egorov, Dirk Bausch, Matthias Schott, Nikolaus Tiling, Gianmaria Pennelli, Stefan Zschiedrich, Roland Därr, Juri Ruf, Timm Denecke, Karl-Heinrich Link, Stefania Zovato, Ernst von Dobschuetz, Svetlana Yaremchuk, Holger Amthauer, Özer Makay, Attila Patocs, Martin K Walz, Tobias B Huber, Jochen Seufert, Per Hellman, Raymond H Kim, Ekaterina Kuchinskaya, Francesca Schiavi, Angelica Malinoc, Nicole Reisch, Barbara Jarzab, Marta Barontini, Andrzej Januszewicz, Nalini Shah, William F Young Jr, Giuseppe Opocher, Charis Eng, Hartmut P H Neumann and Birke Bausch

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) are rare in von Hippel–Lindau disease (VHL) but cause serious morbidity and mortality. Management guidelines for VHL-PanNETs continue to be based on limited evidence, and survival data to guide surgical management are lacking. We established the European-American-Asian-VHL-PanNET-Registry to assess data for risks for metastases, survival and long-term outcomes to provide best management recommendations. Of 2330 VHL patients, 273 had a total of 484 PanNETs. Median age at diagnosis of PanNET was 35 years (range 10–75). Fifty-five (20%) patients had metastatic PanNETs. Metastatic PanNETs were significantly larger (median size 5 vs 2 cm; P < 0.001) and tumor volume doubling time (TVDT) was faster (22 vs 126 months; P = 0.001). All metastatic tumors were ≥2.8 cm. Codons 161 and 167 were hotspots for VHL germline mutations with enhanced risk for metastatic PanNETs. Multivariate prediction modeling disclosed maximum tumor diameter and TVDT as significant predictors for metastatic disease (positive and negative predictive values of 51% and 100% for diameter cut-off ≥2.8 cm, 44% and 91% for TVDT cut-off of ≤24 months). In 117 of 273 patients, PanNETs >1.5 cm in diameter were operated. Ten-year survival was significantly longer in operated vs non-operated patients, in particular for PanNETs <2.8 cm vs ≥2.8 cm (94% vs 85% by 10 years; P = 0.020; 80% vs 50% at 10 years; P = 0.030). This study demonstrates that patients with PanNET approaching the cut-off diameter of 2.8 cm should be operated. Mutations in exon 3, especially of codons 161/167 are at enhanced risk for metastatic PanNETs. Survival is significantly longer in operated non-metastatic VHL-PanNETs.