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A Falchetti and M L Brandi

Multiple Endocrine Neoplasias type 1 (MEN 1) and type 2 (MEN 2) represent complex inherited (autosomal dominant traits) syndromes characterized by occurrence of distinct proliferative disorders of endocrine tissues, varying from hyperplasia to adenoma and carcinoma.

MEN 1 syndrome is characterized by parathyroid gland, anterior pituitary and endocrine pancreas tumors. Other endocrine and non endocrine tumors, such as carcinoids, lipomas, pinealomas, adrenocortical and thyroid follicular tumors, have been also described in MEN 1 patients occurring at higher frequency than in general population (Brandi ML et al. 1987). Recently also a spinal ependymoma has been found in a patient with MEN 1 syndrome (Kato H et al 1997)

MEN 2 syndromes recognize three main clinical entities, MEN 2A, characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and pheochromocytoma (PHEO); MEN 2B that exhibits MTC, usually developing sooner than the MEN 2A- associated one, pheochromocytoma, multiple neuromas of gastroenteric mucosa, myelinated corneal nerves (Gorlin RJ et al. 1968) and a typical marphanoid habitus; and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma only (FMTC) featuring by families with at least four members with MTC and no objective evidence of pheochromocytoma and parathyroid disease on screening of affected and at-risk members, as stated by the International RET Mutation Consortium (Larsson C et al. 1994).

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by grants of the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (to MLB), from CNR/PF ACRO (INV. 95.00316 PF 39) and by MURST 60% (to MLB).

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G Galli, R Zonefrati, A Gozzini, C Mavilia, V Martineti, I Tognarini, G Nesi, T Marcucci, F Tonelli, M Tommasi, C Casini Raggi, P Pinzani, and M L Brandi

In somatostatinoma, a rare malignant somatostatin (SST)-secreting neoplasia, tumour regression is rarely observed, implying the need for novel antiproliferative strategies. Here, we characterized a long-term culture (SST-secreting cancer (SS-C cells)) established from a human somatostatinoma. High concentrations of SST and chromogranin A were released by SS-C cells and SST release was stimulated by depolarizing stimuli and inhibited by the SST analogue, octreotide. SS-C cells expressed mRNA for SST receptor (SSTR) subtypes 1, 2 and 4, being also able to bind native SST. Moreover, SS-C cells were positively stained with an antibody to SSTR2. SS-C cells also expressed interferon-γ (IFN-γ) receptor mRNA and measurable telomerase activity. Our findings indicate that in vitro exposure of SS-C cells to native SST-28, to octreotide, to IFN-γ, or to 3′-azido-3′deoxythymidine (AZT), a telomerase inhibitor, results in inhibition of SS-C cell proliferation. Concomitant with growth inhibition, apoptosis was detected in SST-, octreotide-, IFN-γ- or AZT-treated SS-C cell cultures. Taken together our results characterized native SST, SST analogues, IFN-γ and a telomerase inhibitor as growth-inhibiting and proapoptotic stimuli in cultured human somatostatinoma cells. Based on these findings, the potential of SST analogues, IFN-γ and AZT, alone or in combination, should be further explored in the medical treatment of somatostatinoma.