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Andrea Frilling, Goran Åkerström, Massimo Falconi, Marianne Pavel, Jose Ramos, Mark Kidd and Irvin Mark Modlin

Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (GEP-NENs) represent a heterogenous group of tumors arising from a variety of neuroendocrine cell types. The incidence and prevalence of GEP-NENs have markedly increased over the last three decades. Symptoms are often absent in early disease, or vague and nonspecific even in advanced disease. Delayed diagnosis is thus common. Chromogranin A is the most commonly used biomarker but has limitations as does the proliferative marker Ki-67%, which is often used for tumor grading and determination of therapy. The development of a multidimensional prognostic nomogram may be valuable in predicting tumor behavior and guiding therapy but requires validation. Identification of NENs that express somatostatin receptors (SSTR) allows for SSTR scintigraphy and positron emission tomography imaging using novel radiolabeled compounds. Complete surgical resection of limited disease or endoscopic ablation of small lesions localized in stomach or rectum can provide cure; however, the majority of GEP-NENs are metastatic (most frequently the liver and/or mesenteric lymph nodes) at diagnosis. Selected patients with metastatic disease may benefit from advanced surgical techniques including hepatic resection or liver transplantation. Somatostatin analogs are effective for symptomatic treatment and exhibit some degree of antiproliferative activity in small intestinal NENs. There is a place for streptozotocin, temozolomide, and capecitabine in the management of pancreatic NENs, while new agents targeting either mTOR (everolimus) or angiogenic (sunitinib) pathways have shown efficacy in these lesions.

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Simona Falletta, Stefano Partelli, Corrado Rubini, Dominik Nann, Andrea Doria, Ilaria Marinoni, Vanessa Polenta, Carmelina Di Pasquale, Ettore degli Uberti, Aurel Perren, Massimo Falconi and Maria Chiara Zatelli

Medical therapy of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (P-NET) may take advantage of Everolimus treatment. However, the extent of therapeutic response cannot be predicted. This study was aimed to identify the possible predictive markers of response to Everolimus in P-NET. We found that Everolimus reduced the cell viability and induced apoptosis in primary cultures of 6 P-NET (P-NET-R), where the proliferative and antiapoptotic effects of IGF1 were blocked by Everolimus. On the contrary, 14 P-NET primary cultures (P-NET-NR) were resistant to Everolimus and IGF1, suggesting an involvement of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in the mechanism of resistance. The response to Everolimus in vitro was associated with an active AKT/mTOR pathway and seemed to be associated with a greater clinical aggressiveness. In addition, a patient sensitive to Everolimus in vitro was sensitive to this drug in vivo also and showed a positive p-AKT immunohistochemistry (IHC) at tissue level. Similarly, a patient resistant to Everolimus treatment after surgery was not sensitive to the drug in vitro and had a negative p-AKT IHC staining. Therefore, present data confirm that P-NET primary cultures may be considered a model for testing medical treatment efficacy and that IHC characterization of p-AKT might help in identifying human P-NET who can benefit from Everolimus treatment. These data encourage conducting a prospective multicenter study involving different groups of P-NET patients treated with Everolimus.

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Taymeyah Al-Toubah, Stefano Partelli, Mauro Cives, Valentina Andreasi, Franco Silvestris, Massimo Falconi, Daniel A Anaya and Jonathan Strosberg

New systemic treatments have improved the therapeutic landscape for patients with metastatic gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs). While drugs such as everolimus, sunitinib, temozolomide and 177Lutetium-dotatate are appropriate for patients with widespread disease progression, local treatment approaches may be more appropriate for patients with unifocal progression. Surgical resection, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), hepatic arterial embolization (HAE) or radiation, can control discrete sites of progression, allowing patients to continue their existing therapy and sparing them toxicities of a new systemic treatment. We identified 69 patients with metastatic GEP-NETs who underwent a local treatment for focal progression in the setting of widespread metastases. Twenty-six percent underwent resection, 27% RFA, 23% external beam radiation and 23% selective HAE. With a median follow-up of 25 months, 42 (61%) patients subsequently progressed to the point of requiring additional intervention (12 locoregional, 30 systemic) for disease control. Median time to new systemic treatment was 32 months (95% CI, 16.5–47.5 months). Median time to any additional intervention was 19 months (95% CI, 8.7–25.3 months). Control of local sites of progression enabled the majority of patients to remain on their existing systemic treatment and avoid potential toxicities associated with salvage systemic therapy.

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Francesco Panzuto, Silvia Nasoni, Massimo Falconi, Vito Domenico Corleto, Gabriele Capurso, Sara Cassetta, Michela Di Fonzo, Valentina Tornatore, Massimo Milione, Stefano Angeletti, Maria Sofia Cattaruzza, Vincenzo Ziparo, Cesare Bordi, Paolo Pederzoli and Gianfranco Delle Fave

Since gastro-entero-pancreatic endocrine tumors are rare and heterogeneous diseases, their prognosis and long-term survival are not well known. This study aimed at identifying prognostic factors and assessing long-term survival in gastro-entero-pancreatic endocrine tumors. A total of 156 patients enrolled. Prognostic factors were determined by univariate/multivariate analysis; survival rates were assessed by the Kaplan–Meier method. The tumors were non-functioning in 59.6% of patients, and originated from the pancreas in 42.9%. At diagnosis, 64.3% of patients had metastases. The tumors were well differentiated in 89.6% of patients. Ki67 was >2% in 39.6% of patients. Primary tumor size was >3 cm in 49.6% of cases studied. For the univariate analysis, the negative prognostic factors were: pancreatic origin (rate ratio 4.64, P = 0.0002), poorly differentiated tumor (rate ratio 7.70, P = 0.0001), primary tumor size >3 cm (rate ratio 4.26, P = 0.0009), presence of distant metastases (liver: rate ratio 5.88, P = 0.01; distant extra-hepatic: rate ratio 13.41, P = 0.0008). The pancreatic site, the poor degree of differentiation and the distant metastases were confirmed as negative prognostic factors at multivariate analysis. Overall 5-year survival rate was 77.5%. Survival rates differed according to: primary tumor site (62% for pancreatic vs 89.9% for gastrointestinal tract, P = 0.0001) and size (65.7% for >3 cm vs 88.8% for ≤ 3 cm, P = 0.0003), degree of differentiation (22% for poor vs 86.8% for good, P<0.0001), Ki67 (53.5% for > 2% vs 90.1% for ≤ 2%, P = 0.003), metastases (96.1, 77, 73.3 and 50.1% for absent, local, liver and distant extra-hepatic metastases respectively), age at diagnosis (85.3% for ≤ 50 years vs 70.3% for > 50 years, P = 0.03). Although 64.3% of gastro-entero-pancreatic endocrine tumors present metastases at diagnosis, the 5-year survival rate is 77.5%. Pancreatic site, a poor degree of tumor cell differentiation and distant extra-hepatic metastases are the major negative prognostic factors.

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Vincenzo Corbo, Irene Dalai, Maria Scardoni, Stefano Barbi, Stefania Beghelli, Samantha Bersani, Luca Albarello, Claudio Doglioni, Christina Schott, Paola Capelli, Marco Chilosi, Letizia Boninsegna, Karl-Friedrich Becker, Massimo Falconi and Aldo Scarpa

Pancreatic endocrine tumors (PETs) may be part of hereditary multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome. While MEN1 gene mutation is the only ascertained genetic anomaly described in PETs, no data exist on the cellular localization of MEN1-encoded protein, menin, in normal pancreas and PETs. A total of 169 PETs were used to assess the i) MEN1 gene mutational status in 100 clinically sporadic PETs by direct DNA sequencing, ii) immunohistochemical expression of menin in normal pancreas and 140 PETs, including 71 cases screened for gene mutations, and iii) correlation of these findings with clinical–pathological parameters. Twenty-seven PETs showed mutations that were somatic in 25 patients and revealed to be germline in 2 patients. Menin immunostaining showed strong nuclear and very faint cytoplasmic signal in normal islet cells, whereas it displayed abnormal location and expression levels in 80% of tumors. PETs harboring MEN1 truncating mutations lacked nuclear protein, and most PETs with MEN1 missense mutations showed a strong cytoplasmic positivity for menin. Menin was also misplaced in a significant number of cases lacking MEN1 mutations. In conclusion, the vast majority of PETs showed qualitative and/or quantitative alterations in menin localization. In 30% of cases, this was associated with MEN1 mutations affecting sequences involved in nuclear localization or protein–protein interaction. In cases lacking MEN1 mutations, the alteration of one of the menin interactors may have prevented its proper localization, as suggested by recent data showing that menin protein shuttles between the nucleus and cytoplasm and also affects the subcellular localization of its interactors.