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Yong Lin, Xiaofei Jiang, Ye Shen, Min Li, Huili Ma, Mingzhao Xing, and Yuan Lu

Genetic alterations in the PIK3CA gene of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway have been found in many human tumors, but they have not been explored in pituitary tumors. We undertook the present study to explore mutations and amplifications of the PIK3CA gene in pituitary tumors. DNA sequencing and real-time quantitative PCR were used to examine mutations and amplifications respectively, on genomic DNA samples isolated from 353 cases of pituitary tumors, and immunohistostaining was used to assess PIK3CA expression. About 8 out of 91 (9%) invasive pituitary tumors versus 0 out of 262 (0%) noninvasive tumors were found to harbor somatic mutations in exons 9 and 20 of the PIK3CA gene (P<0.001), and the mutation was associated with increased disease recurrence. Genomic PIK3CA amplifications (defined as ≥4 copies) were observed in both invasive and noninvasive tumors, with a prevalence of around 20–40% in various types of pituitary tumors. PIK3CA protein overexpression was observed in cases with high PIK3CA copy number. RAS mutations were also examined and found in 6 out of the 91 (7%) invasive tumors. PIK3CA amplifications were mutually exclusive with PIK3CA or RAS mutations (P<0.001). This study demonstrated for the first time relatively common PIK3CA mutations and amplifications as well as RAS mutations and their tendency of mutual exclusivity in pituitary tumors. The data provide strong genetic evidence supporting a role of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway in the tumorigenesis of pituitary tumors, particularly the invasive types.

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Xiong Wang, Li Ma, Qiao-yan Ding, Wen-yu Zhang, Yong-gang Chen, Jin-hu Wu, Hong-feng Zhang, and Xiu-li Guo

Prolactinomas have harmful effects on human health, and the pathogenesis is still unknown. Furthermore, 25% of prolactinoma patients do not respond to the therapy of dopamine receptor agonist in the clinic. Thus, it is important to reveal the pathogenesis and develop new therapeutic methods for prolactinomas. Herein, two animal models of prolactinomas, namely oestrogen-treated rats and transgenic D2 dopamine receptor-deficient mice, were used. PET/CT imaging detection showed that translocator protein-mediated microglia activation and inflammation significantly increased in the pituitary glands of prolactinomas rats. Messenger RNA microarrays were used to analyze and compare the differential gene and signal pathways of the pituitary glands between control and prolactinomas rats. Statistical results pertaining to gene enrichment showed that the innate immune response genes were upregulated in the pituitary glands of prolactinoma rats. This suggested that the innate immune response was activated. We analyzed the NLRP3 (NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing protein 3) inflammasome that is one of the most important members of the innate immune system in mammals and found that the expressions of NLRP3, Caspase-1, apoptosis-associated speck-like, interleukin 1B (IL1B) and IL18 proteins of pituitary glands in prolactinomas rats were increased considerably compared with those in control rats. This suggested the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome during the emergence and evolution of prolactinomas. Immunohistochemistry results also confirmed that the NLRP3 expression was elevated in human prolactinoma tissues, and the microglia marker-ionised calcium binding adaptor molecule-1 was co-located with the NLRP3 protein in prolactinomas by immunofluorescence assay. Finally, compared with the WT mice, NLRP3−/− mice had smaller pituitary glands (weight/body weight) and diminished prolactin (PRL) expressions and secretions. These findings were associated with a reduction in the caspase-1 activation and maturation of IL1B. Furthermore, MCC950 decreased the PRL expression and secretion following the inhibition of NLRP3 inflammasome activation in GH3 cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide and nigericin. And MCC950 inhibited the pituitary tumor overgrowth and PRL expression and secretion in prolactinoma rats. These data confirm that the microglial NLRP3 inflammasome activation upregulates the inflammatory cytokines IL1/IL18 in the pituitary glands and induces prolactinomas. Our findings showed that microglial NLRP3 inflammasome activation-mediated IL1B-related inflammation promoted the development of prolactinomas and identified the inflammasome as a new therapeutic target for prolactinomas.