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Constanze Hantel, Sara Jung, Thomas Mussack, Martin Reincke, and Felix Beuschlein

Owing to high relapse rates and early metastatic spread, prognosis in adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) patients remains poor, highlighting the importance of developing new treatment alternatives for them. Recently, polychemotherapy regimens including etoposide, doxorubicin, and cisplatin together with mitotane (EDP-M) have been defined as the standard treatment for late-stage disease patients. Nevertheless, the administration of conventional cytostatic drugs is associated with severe and dose-limiting side effects. In an attempt to optimize existing clinical treatment regimens, in this study, we investigated the therapeutic efficacy of EDP-M in comparison with that of a paclitaxel-modified scheme (paclitaxel, doxorubicin, cisplatin plus mitotane (PDP-M)) in preclinical in vitro and in vivo models. In addition, based on an extraordinary uptake phenomenon of liposomes in ACC cells, we further evaluated liposomal variants of these protocols (etoposide, liposomal doxorubicin, liposomal cisplatin plus mitotane (LEDP-M) and nab-paclitaxel, liposomal doxorubicin, liposomal cisplatin plus mitotane (LPDP-M)). In vitro, PDP-M was more potent in the induction of apoptosis and inhibition of cell viability as well as cell proliferation than EDP-M. Following the administration of a single therapeutic cycle, we further demonstrated that LEDP-M and LPDP-M exerted significant antitumoral effects in vivo, which were not as evident upon EDP-M and PDP-M treatments. These results were confirmed in a long-term experiment, in which the highest and sustained antitumoral effects were observed for LEDP-M. In summary, liposomal cytostatic substances could represent a promising option that deserves testing in appropriate clinical protocols for the treatment of ACC patients.

Free access

Sara Jung, Zoltan Nagy, Martin Fassnacht, Gerard Zambetti, Max Weiss, Martin Reincke, Peter Igaz, Felix Beuschlein, and Constanze Hantel

Systemic therapy of adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is limited by heterogeneous tumor response and adverse effects. Recently, we demonstrated anti-tumor activity of LEDP-M (etoposide, liposomal doxorubicin, liposomal cisplatin, mitotane), a liposomal variant of EDP-M (etoposide, doxorubicin, cisplatin, mitotane). To improve the therapeutic efficacy and off-target profiles of the clinical gold standard EDP-M, we investigated liposomal EDP-M regimens in different preclinical settings and in a small number of ACC patients with very advanced disease. Short- and long-term experiments were performed on two ACC models (SW-13 and SJ-ACC3) in vivo. We evaluated the anti-tumoral effects and off-target profiles of EDP-M, LEDP-M and a novel regimen L(l)EDP-M including liposomal etoposide. Furthermore, the role of plasma microRNA-210 as a therapeutic biomarker and first clinical data were assessed. Classical and liposomal protocols revealed anti-proliferative efficacy against SW-13 (EDP-M P < 0.01; LEDP-M: P < 0.001; L(l)EDP-M: P < 0.001 vs controls), whereas in SJ-ACC3, only EDP-M (P < 0.05 vs controls) was slightly effective. Long-term experiments in SW-13 demonstrated anti-tumor efficacy for all treatment schemes (EDP-M: P < 0.01, LEDP-M: P < 0.05, L(l)EDP-M P < 0.001 vs controls). The analysis of pre-defined criteria leading to study termination revealed significant differences for control (P < 0.0001) and EDP-M (P = 0.003) compared to L(l)EDP-M treatment. Raising its potential for therapy monitoring, we detected elevated levels of circulating microRNA-210 in SW-13 after LEDP-M treatment (P < 0.05). In contrast, no comparable effects were detectable for SJ-ACC3. However, overall histological evaluation demonstrated improved off-target profiles following liposomal regimens. The first clinical data indicate improved tolerability of liposomal EDP-M, thus confirming our results. In summary, liposomal EDP-M regimens represent promising treatment options to improve clinical treatment of ACC.

Free access

Luis G Perez-Rivas, Andrea Oßwald, Thomas Knösel, Kristin Lucia, Christian Schaaf, Michael Hristov, Julia Fazel, Thomas Kirchner, Felix Beuschlein, Martin Reincke, and Marily Theodoropoulou

Free access

Fady Hannah-Shmouni, Annabel Berthon, Fabio R Faucz, Juan Medina Briceno, Andrea Gutierrez Maria, Andrew Demidowich, Mirko Peitzsch, Jimmy Masjkur, Fidéline Bonnet-Serrano, Anna Vaczlavik, Jérôme Bertherat, Martin Reincke, Graeme Eisenhofer, and Constantine A Stratakis

Biochemical characterization of primary bilateral macronodular adrenocortical hyperplasia (PBMAH) by distinct plasma steroid profiles and its putative correlation to disease has not been previously studied. LC-MS/MS–based steroid profiling of 16 plasma steroids was applied to 36 subjects (22 females, 14 males) with PBMAH, 19 subjects (16 females, 3 males) with other forms of adrenal Cushing's syndrome (ACS), and an age and sex-matched control group. Germline ARMC5 sequencing was performed in all PBMAH cases. Compared to controls, PBMAH showed increased plasma 11-deoxycortisol, corticosterone, 11-deoxycorticosterone, 18-hydroxycortisol, and aldosterone, but lower progesterone, DHEA, and DHEA-S with distinct differences in subjects with and without pathogenic variants in ARMC5. Steroids that showed isolated differences included cortisol and 18-oxocortisol with higher (P < 0.05) concentrations in ACS than in controls and aldosterone with higher concentrations in PBMAH when compared to controls. Larger differences in PBMAH than with ACS were most clear for corticosterone, but there were also trends in this direction for 18-hydroxycortisol and aldosterone. Logistic regression analysis indicated four steroids – DHEA, 11-deoxycortisol, 18-oxocortisol, and corticosterone – with the most power for distinguishing the groups. Discriminant analyses with step-wise variable selection indicated correct classification of 95.2% of all subjects of the four groups using a panel of nine steroids; correct classification of subjects with and without germline variants in ARMC5 was achieved in 91.7% of subjects with PBMAH. Subjects with PBMAH show distinctive plasma steroid profiles that may offer a supplementary single-test alternative for screening purposes.

Open access

Adriana Albani, Luis Gustavo Perez-Rivas, Sicheng Tang, Julia Simon, Kristin Elisabeth Lucia, Paula Colón-Bolea, Jochen Schopohl, Sigrun Roeber, Michael Buchfelder, Roman Rotermund, Jörg Flitsch, Jun Thorsteinsdottir, Jochen Herms, Günter Stalla, Martin Reincke, and Marily Theodoropoulou

Cushing’s disease is a rare but devastating and difficult to manage condition. The somatostatin analogue pasireotide is the only pituitary-targeting pharmaceutical approved for the treatment of Cushing’s disease but is accompanied by varying efficacy and potentially severe side effects. Finding means to predict which patients are more likely to benefit from this treatment may improve their management. More than half of corticotroph tumours harbour mutations in the USP8 gene, and there is evidence of higher somatostatin receptor 5 (SSTR5) expression in the USP8-mutant tumours. Pasireotide has a high affinity for SSTR5, indicating that these tumours may be more sensitive to treatment. To test this hypothesis, we examined the inhibitory action of pasireotide on adrenocorticotrophic hormone synthesis in primary cultures of human corticotroph tumour with assessed USP8 mutational status and in immortalized murine corticotroph tumour cells overexpressing human USP8 mutants frequent in Cushing’s disease. Our in vitro results demonstrate that pasireotide exerts a higher antisecretory response in USP8-mutant corticotroph tumours. Overexpressing USP8 mutants in a murine corticotroph tumour cell model increased endogenous somatostatin receptor 5 (Sstr5) transcription. The murine Sstr5 promoter has two binding sites for the activating protein 1 (AP-1) and USP8 mutants possibly to mediate their action by stimulating AP-1 transcriptional activity. Our data corroborate the USP8 mutational status as a potential marker of pasireotide response and describe a potential mechanism through which USP8 mutants may regulate SSTR5 gene expression.

Restricted access

Elena Valassi, Frédéric Castinetti, Amandine Ferriere, Stylianos Tsagarakis, Richard A Feelders, Romana T Netea-Maier, Michael Droste, Christian J Strasburger, Dominique Maiter, Darko Kastelan, Philippe Chanson, Susan M Webb, Frank Demtröder, Valdis Pirags, Olivier Chabre, Holger Franz, Alicia Santos, and Martin Reincke

Corticotroph tumor progression after bilateral adrenalectomy/Nelson’s syndrome (CTP-BADX/NS) is a severe complication of bilateral adrenalectomy (BADX). The aim of our study was to investigate the prevalence, presentation and outcome of CTP-BADX/NS in patients with Cushing’s disease (CD) included in the European Registry on Cushing’s Syndrome (ERCUSYN). We examined data on 1045 CD patients and identified 85 (8%) who underwent BADX. Of these, 73 (86%) had follow-up data available. The median duration of follow-up since BADX to the last visit/death was 7 years (IQR 2–9 years). Thirty-three patients (45%) experienced CTP-BADX/NS after 3 years (1.5–6) since BADX. Cumulative progression-free survival was 73% at 3 years, 66% at 5 years and 46% at 10 years. CTP-BADX/NS patients more frequently had a visible tumor at diagnosis of CD than patients without CTP-BADX/NS (P < 0.05). Twenty-seven CTP-BADX/NS patients underwent surgery, 48% radiotherapy and 27% received medical therapy. The median time since diagnosis of CTP-BADX/NS to the last follow-up visit was 2 years (IQR, 1–5). Control of tumor progression was not achieved in 16 of 33 (48%) patients, of whom 8 (50%) died after a mean of 4 years. Maximum adenoma size at diagnosis of CD was associated with further tumor growth in CTP-BADX/NS despite treatment (P = 0.033). Diagnosis of CTP-BADX/NS, older age, greater UFC levels at diagnosis of CD and initial treatment predicted mortality. In conclusion, CTP-BADX/NS was reported in 45% of the ERCUSYN patients who underwent BADX, and control of tumor growth was reached in half of them. Future studies are needed to establish effective strategies for prevention and treatment.

Restricted access

Katharina Wang, Ina Schütze, Sebastian Gulde, Nicole Bechmann, Susan Richter, Jana Helm, Michael Lauseker, Julian Maurer, Astrid Reul, Gerald Spoettl, Barbara Klink, Doreen William, Thomas Knösel, Juliane Friemel, Michel Bihl, Achim Weber, Maria Fankhauser, Laura Schober, Diana Vetter, Martina Broglie Däppen, Christian G Ziegler, Martin Ullrich, Jens Pietzsch, Stefan R Bornstein, Christian Lottspeich, Matthias Kroiss, Martin Fassnacht, Vera Ursula Julia Wenter, Roland Ladurner, Constanze Hantel, Martin Reincke, Graeme Eisenhofer, Ashley B Grossman, Karel Pacak, Felix Beuschlein, Christoph J Auernhammer, Natalia S Pellegata, and Svenja Nölting

Aggressive pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) are difficult to treat, and molecular targeting is being increasingly considered, but with variable results. This study investigates established and novel molecular-targeted drugs and chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of PPGLs in human primary cultures and murine cell line spheroids. In PPGLs from 33 patients, including 7 metastatic PPGLs, we identified germline or somatic driver mutations in 79% of cases, allowing us to assess potential differences in drug responsivity between pseudohypoxia-associated cluster 1-related (n  = 10) and kinase signaling-associated cluster 2-related (n  = 14) PPGL primary cultures. Single anti-cancer drugs were either more effective in cluster 1 (cabozantinib, selpercatinib, and 5-FU) or similarly effective in both clusters (everolimus, sunitinib, alpelisib, trametinib, niraparib, entinostat, gemcitabine, AR-A014418, and high-dose zoledronic acid). High-dose estrogen and low-dose zoledronic acid were the only single substances more effective in cluster 2. Neither cluster 1- nor cluster 2-related patient primary cultures responded to HIF-2a inhibitors, temozolomide, dabrafenib, or octreotide. We showed particular efficacy of targeted combination treatments (cabozantinib/everolimus, alpelisib/everolimus, alpelisib/trametinib) in both clusters, with higher efficacy of some targeted combinations in cluster 2 and overall synergistic effects (cabozantinib/everolimus, alpelisib/trametinib) or synergistic effects in cluster 2 (alpelisib/everolimus). Cabozantinib/everolimus combination therapy, gemcitabine, and high-dose zoledronic acid appear to be promising treatment options with particularly high efficacy in SDHB-mutant and metastatic tumors. In conclusion, only minor differences regarding drug responsivity were found between cluster 1 and cluster 2: some single anti-cancer drugs were more effective in cluster 1 and some targeted combination treatments were more effective in cluster 2.