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G Mantovani, D Treppiedi, E Giardino, R Catalano, F Mangili, P Vercesi, M Arosio, A Spada and E Peverelli

Although generally benign, pituitary tumors are frequently locally invasive, with reduced success of neurosurgery and unresponsive to pharmacological treatment with somatostatin or dopamine analogues. The molecular basis of the different biological behavior of pituitary tumors are still poorly identified, but a body of work now suggests that the activity of specific cytoskeleton proteins is a key factor regulating both the invasiveness and drug resistance of these tumors. This review recapitulates the experimental evidence supporting a role for the actin-binding protein filamin A (FLNA) in the regulation of somatostatin and dopamine receptors expression and signaling in pituitary tumors, thus in determining the responsiveness to currently used drugs, somatostatin analogues and dopamine receptor type 2 agonists. Regarding the regulation of invasive behavior of pituitary tumoral cells, we bring evidence to the role of the actin-severing protein cofilin, whose activation status may be modulated by dopaminergic and somatostatinergic drugs, through FLNA involvement. Molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of FLNA expression and function in pituitary tumors will also be discussed.

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S Corbetta, L Vicentini, S Ferrero, A Lania, G Mantovani, D Cordella, P Beck-Peccoz and A Spada

Previous studies indicate that nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB) transcription factor is deregulated and overexpressed in several human neoplasias. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the NF-κB pathway may be involved in parathyroid tumorigenesis. For this purpose, we determined the level of NF-κB activity, evaluated as phosphorylation of the transcription subunit p65, its modulation by specific and non-specific agents and its impact on cyclin D1 expression. Phosphorylated p65 levels present in parathyroid neoplasias (n = 13) were significantly lower than those found in normal tissues (n = 3; mean optical density (OD) 0.19 ± 0.1 vs 0.4 ± 0.1, P = 0.007), but there was no significant difference between adenomas and secondary and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1)-related hyperplasia. Conversely, MEN2A (Cys634Arg)-related parathyroid samples showed extremely high levels of phosphorylated p65 that exhibited a nuclear localization at immunohistochemistry (n = 3). Phosphorylated p65 levels negatively correlated with menin expression (r 2 = 0.42, P = 0.05). Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) caused a significant increase in phosphorylated p65 levels (183 ± 13.8% of basal) while calcium sensing receptor (CaR) agonists exerted a significant inhibition (19.2 ± 3.3% of basal). Although TNFα was poorly effective in increasing cyclin D1 expression, NF-κB blockade by the specific inhibitor BAY11-7082 reduced FCS-stimulated cyclin D1 by about 60%. Finally, the inhibitory effects of CaR and BAY11-7082 on cyclin D1 expression were not additive – by blocking NF-κB CaR activation did not induce a further reduction in cyclin D1 levels. In conclusion, the study demonstrated that in parathyroid tumors: (1) p65 phosphorylation was dramatically increased by RET constitutive activation and was negatively correlated with menin expression, (2) p65 phosphorylation was increased and reduced by TNFα and CaR agonists respectively, and (3) blockade of the NF-κB pathway caused a significant decrease in cyclin D1 expression.

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G Butturini, R Bettini, E Missiaglia, W Mantovani, I Dalai, P Capelli, M Ferdeghini, P Pederzoli, A Scarpa and M Falconi

About 40% of nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine carcinomas (NF-PEC) cannot be cured by surgery due to advanced stage disease. Somatostatin analogues have been proposed as first line therapy in these cases. We performed a prospective phase IV study to assess the efficacy of octreotide in advanced NF-PEC and identify factors predictive of response to therapy. Twenty-one consecutive patients with octreoscan-positive advanced-stage well-differentiated NF-PEC were treated with long-acting release octreotide 20 mg i.m. at diagnosis. The immunohistochemical expression of somatostatin receptor 2 (SSTR2) and the quantitative mRNA analysis of SSTR2 and SSTR5 were assessed in 12 tumours. The tumour proliferative fraction was assessed by immunohistochemistry for Ki-67. Eight patients (38%) had stable disease (SD) after a median follow-up of 49.5 months. Thirteen patients (62%) developed progression after a median of 18 months. Tumour progression correlated with a proliferative index ≥5% (P=0.016), weight loss (P=0.006) and absence of abdominal pain (P=0.003) at diagnosis. Other clinical (age, gender and primary tumour resection) or pathological parameters (site, size and liver metastasis) lacked significant correlation with tumour progression. No difference in the amount of SSTR2 mRNA and protein or SSTR5 mRNA was found between tumours that were stable (n=5) and seven tumours that progressed (n=7). Treatment with long-acting release octreotide was associated with stabilization of disease and a good quality of life in 38% of patients. A Ki-67 index ≥5% and/or the presence of weight loss may justify more aggressive therapy without waiting for radiologically proven progression of disease.

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Eleonora Vitali, Valeria Cambiaghi, Alessandro Zerbi, Carlo Carnaghi, Piergiuseppe Colombo, Erika Peverelli, Anna Spada, Giovanna Mantovani and Andrea G Lania

Somatostatin receptor type 2 (SST2) is the main pharmacological target of somatostatin (SS) analogues widely used in patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (P-NETs), this treatment being ineffective in a subset of patients. Since it has been demonstrated that Filamin A (FLNA) is involved in mediating GPCR expression, membrane anchoring and signalling, we investigated the role of this cytoskeleton protein in SST2 expression and signalling, angiogenesis, cell adhesion and cell migration in human P-NETs and in QGP1 cell line. We demonstrated that FLNA silencing was not able to affect SST2 expression in P-NET cells in basal conditions. Conversely, a significant reduction in SST2 expression (−43±21%, P<0.05 vs untreated cells) was observed in FLNA silenced QGP1 cells after long term SST2 activation with BIM23120. Moreover, the inhibitory effect of BIM23120 on cyclin D1 expression (−46±18%, P<0.05 vs untreated cells), P-ERK1/2 levels (−42±14%; P<0.05 vs untreated cells), cAMP accumulation (−24±3%, P<0.05 vs untreated cells), VEGF expression (−31±5%, P<0.01 vs untreated cells) and in vitro release (−40±24%, P<0.05 vs untreated cells) was completely lost after FLNA silencing. Interestingly, BIM23120 promoted cell adhesion (+86±45%, P<0.05 vs untreated cells) and inhibited cell migration (−24±2%, P<0.00001 vs untreated cells) in P-NETs cells and these effects were abolished in FLNA silenced cells. In conclusion, we demonstrated that FLNA plays a crucial role in SST2 expression and signalling, angiogenesis, cell adhesion and cell migration in P-NETs and in QGP1 cell line, suggesting a possible role of FLNA in determining the different responsiveness to SS analogues observed in P-NET patients.

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E Ferrante, C Pellegrini, S Bondioni, E Peverelli, M Locatelli, P Gelmini, P Luciani, A Peri, G Mantovani, S Bosari, P Beck-Peccoz, A Spada and A Lania

Somatostatin analogs currently used in the treatment of acromegaly and other neuroendocrine tumors inhibit hormone secretion and cell proliferation by binding to somatostatin receptor type (SST) 2 and 5. The antiproliferative pathways coupled to these receptors have been only partially characterized. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of octreotide and super selective SST2 (BIM23120) and SST5 (BIM23206) analogs on apoptotic activity and apoptotic gene expression in human somatotroph tumor cells. Eight somatotroph tumors expressing similar levels of SST2 and SST5 evaluated by real-time PCR and western blot analyses were included in the study. In cultured cells obtained from these tumors, octreotide induced a dose-dependent increase of caspase-3 activity (160 ± 20% vs basal at 10 nM) and cleaved cytokeratin 18 levels (172 ± 25% vs basal) at concentrations higher than 0.1 nM. This effect was due to SST2 activation since BIM23120 elicited comparable responses, while BIM23206 was ineffective. BIM23120-stimulated apoptosis was dependent on phosphatases, since it was abrogated by the inhibitor orthovanadate, and independent from the induction of apoptosis-related genes, such as p53, p63, p73, Bcl-2, Bax, BID, BIK, TNFSF8, and FADD. In somatotroph tumors, both BIM23120 and BIM2306 caused growth arrest as indicated by the increase in p27 and decrease in cyclin D1 expression. In conclusion, the present study showed that octreotide-induced apoptosis in human somatotroph tumor cells by activating SST2. This effect, together with the cytostatic action exerted by both SST2 and SST5 analogs, might account for the tumor shrinkage observed in acromegalic patients treated with long-acting somatostatin analogs.

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Liliya Rostomyan, Adrian F Daly, Patrick Petrossians, Emil Nachev, Anurag R Lila, Anne-Lise Lecoq, Beatriz Lecumberri, Giampaolo Trivellin, Roberto Salvatori, Andreas G Moraitis, Ian Holdaway, Dianne J Kranenburg - van Klaveren, Maria Chiara Zatelli, Nuria Palacios, Cecile Nozieres, Margaret Zacharin, Tapani Ebeling, Marja Ojaniemi, Liudmila Rozhinskaya, Elisa Verrua, Marie-Lise Jaffrain-Rea, Silvia Filipponi, Daria Gusakova, Vyacheslav Pronin, Jerome Bertherat, Zhanna Belaya, Irena Ilovayskaya, Mona Sahnoun-Fathallah, Caroline Sievers, Gunter K Stalla, Emilie Castermans, Jean-Hubert Caberg, Ekaterina Sorkina, Renata Simona Auriemma, Sachin Mittal, Maria Kareva, Philippe A Lysy, Philippe Emy, Ernesto De Menis, Catherine S Choong, Giovanna Mantovani, Vincent Bours, Wouter De Herder, Thierry Brue, Anne Barlier, Sebastian J C M M Neggers, Sabina Zacharieva, Philippe Chanson, Nalini Samir Shah, Constantine A Stratakis, Luciana A Naves and Albert Beckers

Despite being a classical growth disorder, pituitary gigantism has not been studied previously in a standardized way. We performed a retrospective, multicenter, international study to characterize a large series of pituitary gigantism patients. We included 208 patients (163 males; 78.4%) with growth hormone excess and a current/previous abnormal growth velocity for age or final height >2 s.d. above country normal means. The median onset of rapid growth was 13 years and occurred significantly earlier in females than in males; pituitary adenomas were diagnosed earlier in females than males (15.8 vs 21.5 years respectively). Adenomas were ≥10 mm (i.e., macroadenomas) in 84%, of which extrasellar extension occurred in 77% and invasion in 54%. GH/IGF1 control was achieved in 39% during long-term follow-up. Final height was greater in younger onset patients, with larger tumors and higher GH levels. Later disease control was associated with a greater difference from mid-parental height (r=0.23, P=0.02). AIP mutations occurred in 29%; microduplication at Xq26.3 – X-linked acrogigantism (X-LAG) – occurred in two familial isolated pituitary adenoma kindreds and in ten sporadic patients. Tumor size was not different in X-LAG, AIP mutated and genetically negative patient groups. AIP-mutated and X-LAG patients were significantly younger at onset and diagnosis, but disease control was worse in genetically negative cases. Pituitary gigantism patients are characterized by male predominance and large tumors that are difficult to control. Treatment delay increases final height and symptom burden. AIP mutations and X-LAG explain many cases, but no genetic etiology is seen in >50% of cases.