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B Shan, J Gerez, M Haedo, M Fuertes, M Theodoropoulou, M Buchfelder, M Losa, G K Stalla, E Arzt and U Renner

The recently cloned small RWD-domain containing protein RSUME was shown to increase protein levels of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α). The latter is the oxygen-regulated subunit of HIF-1, the most important transcription factor of the cellular adaptive processes to hypoxic conditions. It is also a major regulator of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), which is critically involved in the complex process of tumour neovascularisation. In this study, the expression and role of RSUME in pituitary tumours was studied. We found that RSUME mRNA was up-regulated in pituitary adenomas and significantly correlated with HIF-1α mRNA levels. Hypoxia (1% O2) or treatment with hypoxia-mimicking CoCl2 enhanced RSUME and HIF-1α expression, induced translocation of HIF-1α to the nuclei and stimulated VEGF-A production both in pituitary tumour cell lines and primary human pituitary adenoma cell cultures. When RSUME expression was specifically down-regulated by siRNA, the CoCl2-induced increase VEGF-A secretion was strongly reduced which was shown to be a consequence of the RSUME knockdown-associated reduction of HIF-1α synthesis. Thus, RSUME plays an important role in initiating pituitary tumour neovascularisation through regulating HIF-1α levels and subsequent VEGF-A production and may therefore be critically involved in pituitary adenoma progression.

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C Schaaf, B Shan, M Buchfelder, M Losa, J Kreutzer, W Rachinger, G K Stalla, T Schilling, E Arzt, M J Perone and U Renner

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is the active ingredient of the spice plant Curcuma longa and has been shown to act anti-tumorigenic in different types of tumours. Therefore, we have studied its effect in pituitary tumour cell lines and adenomas. Proliferation of lactosomatotroph GH3 and somatotroph MtT/S rat pituitary cells as well as of corticotroph AtT20 mouse pituitary cells was inhibited by curcumin in monolayer cell culture and in colony formation assay in soft agar. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis demonstrated curcumin-induced cell cycle arrest at G2/M. Analysis of cell cycle proteins by immunoblotting showed reduction in cyclin D1, cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and no change in p27kip. FACS analysis with Annexin V-FITC/7-aminoactinomycin D staining demonstrated curcumin-induced early apoptosis after 3, 6, 12 and 24 h treatment and nearly no necrosis. Induction of DNA fragmentation, reduction of Bcl-2 and enhancement of cleaved caspase-3 further confirmed induction of apoptosis by curcumin. Growth of GH3 tumours in athymic nude mice was suppressed by curcumin in vivo. In endocrine pituitary tumour cell lines, GH, ACTH and prolactin production were inhibited by curcumin. Studies in 25 human pituitary adenoma cell cultures have confirmed the anti-tumorigenic and hormone-suppressive effects of curcumin. Altogether, the results described in this report suggest this natural compound as a good candidate for therapeutic use on pituitary tumours.

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M Theodoropoulou, I Cavallari, L Barzon, D M D'Agostino, T Ferro, T Arzberger, Y Grübler, L Schaaf, M Losa, F Fallo, V Ciminale, G K Stalla and U Pagotto

Pituitary adenomas represent one of the key features of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1. The gene involved in this syndrome (MEN1) is a putative tumor suppressor, that codes for a 610-amino acid nuclear protein termed 'menin'. Analyses of sporadic pituitary adenomas have so far failed to reveal MEN1 mutations or defects in MEN1 transcription in these tumors. In the present study we detected menin protein expression in a panel of normal and tumoral pituitary tissues, using a monoclonal antibody against the carboxy-terminus of menin. In the normal human pituitary gland, strong nuclear staining for menin was detectable in the majority of the endocrine cells of the anterior lobe, without a clear association with a particular hormone-producing type. In sporadic pituitary adenomas, menin expression was variable, with a high percentage of cases demonstrating a significant decrease in menin immunoreactivity when compared with the normal pituitary. Interestingly, metastatic tissues derived from one pituitary carcinoma had no detectable menin levels. Altogether, our data provide the first information regarding the status of menin expression in human normal and neoplastic pituitary as determined by immunohistochemistry (IHC).