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Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Ilan Shimon, Márta Korbonits and Ashley B Grossman

Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) represent a heterogeneous family of neoplasms, which may develop from different endocrine glands (such as the pituitary, the parathyroid or the neuroendocrine adrenal glands), endocrine islets (within the thyroid or pancreas) as well as from endocrine cells dispersed between exocrine cells throughout the digestive and respiratory tracts. The development of somatostatin analogues (SSA) as important diagnostic and treatment tools has revolutionised the clinical management of patients with NETs. However, although symptomatic relief and stabilisation of tumour growth for various periods of time are observed in many patients treated with SSA, tumour regression is rare. Possible mechanisms when this does occur include antagonism of local growth factor release and effects, probably including activation of tyrosine and serine–threonine phosphatases, and indirect effects via anti-angiogenesis. The development of new SSA, new drug combination therapies and chimaeric molecules should further improve the clinical management of these patients, as should a more complete understanding of their mode of action.

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Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Kate E Lines, Shani Avniel- Polak, Chas Bountra and Rajesh V Thakker

Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) occur usually as sporadic tumours; however, rarely, they may arise in the context of a hereditary syndrome, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), an autosomal dominant disorder characterised by the combined development of pancreatic NENs (pNENs) together with parathyroid and anterior pituitary tumours. The therapeutic decision for sporadic pNENs patients is multi-disciplinary and complex: based on the grade and stage of the tumor, various options (and their combinations) are considered, such as surgical excision (either curative or for debulking aims), biological drugs (somatostatin analogues), targeted therapies (mTOR inhibitors or tyrosine kinases (TK)/receptors inhibitors), peptide receptor radioligand therapy (PRRT), chemotherapy, and liver-directed therapies. However, treatment of MEN1-related NENs' patients is even more challenging, as these tumours are usually multifocal with co-existing foci of heterogeneous biology and malignant potential, rendering them more resistant to the conventional therapies used in their sporadic counterparts, and therefore associated with a poorer prognosis. Moreover, clinical data using standard therapeutic options in MEN1-related NENs are scarce. Recent preclinical studies have identified potentially new targeted therapeutic options for treating MEN1-associated NENs, such as epigenetic modulators, Wnt pathway-targeting β-catenin antagonists, Ras signalling modulators, Akt/mTOR signalling modulators, novel somatostatin receptors analogues, anti-angiogenic-drugs, and MEN1 gene replacement therapy. The present review aims to summarize these novel therapeutic opportunities for NENs developing in the context of MEN1 syndrome, with an emphasis on pancreatic NENs, as they are the most frequent ones studied to date; moreover, relevant data on MEN1-pituitary NENs are briefly described.

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Krystallenia I Alexandraki, Gregory A Kaltsas, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Eleftherios Chatzellis and Ashley B Grossman

Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine neoplasms (GI-NENs) are increasingly being recognised, while appendiceal NENs (aNENs) currently constitute the third most common GI-NEN. Appendiceal NENs are generally considered to follow an indolent course with the majority being localised at diagnosis. Thus, the initial surgical approach is not that of a planned oncological resection. Due to the localised nature of the disease in the majority of cases, subsequent biochemical and radiological assessment are not routinely recommended. Histopathological criteria (size, mesoappendiceal invasion, Ki-67 proliferation index, neuro- and angio-invasion) are mainly used to identify those patients who are also candidates for a right hemicolectomy. Goblet cell carcinoids are a distinct entity and should be treated as adenocarcinomas. Despite the absence of any substantial prospective data regarding optimal management and follow-up, recent consensus statements and guidelines have been published. The purpose of this review is to overview the published studies on the diagnosis and management of appendiceal NENs and to suggest a possible management protocol.

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Halfdan Sorbye, Grace Kong and Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is an established treatment for grade 1 and 2 gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors with an increased uptake on somatostatin receptor imaging (SRI). Patients with metastatic high-grade (WHO G3) gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (NET G3 and NEC) represent a heterogeneous subgroup with poor prognosis and standard platinum-etoposide chemotherapy have limited therapeutic benefit. However, there is promising emerging evidence supporting the effectiveness of PRRT in SRI-positive G3 disease. A review search for studies reporting on PRRT in gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms G3 was performed: four studies with more than ten cases were found. PRRT was mainly given as second- or third-line treatment in patients with progressive disease. Most patients had a pancreatic primary, 50% had well-differentiated tumors, and most had a Ki-67 <55%. Three studies showed similar results with promising response rates (31–41%) and disease control rates (69–78%). Progression-free survival (11–16 months) and survival (22–46 months) were best concerning patients with a Ki-67 <55%. Progression-free survival was 19 months in NET G3, 11 months for lowNEC (Ki-67 ≤55%) and 4 months for highNEC (Ki-67 >55%). PRRT should be considered for patients with increased uptake on SRI, both in gastroenteropancreatic NET G3 cases and as well as in NEC cases with a Ki-67 21–55%. PRRT for NEC with a Ki-67 >55% is less defined, but could be considered in highly selected cases after response to initial chemotherapy where all residual disease have high uptake on SRI. Dual tracer using 18F-FDG PET/CT and SRI provides important information for patient selection for PRRT in this heterogeneous complex high-grade disease.

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Shani Avniel-Polak, Gil Leibowitz, Victoria Doviner, David J Gross and Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg

Patients with neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) often require systemic treatment, which is frequently limited by the emergence of drug resistance. mTOR inhibitors (mTORi), such as RAD001 (everolimus), have been shown to inhibit neoplasm progression. mTORi stimulates autophagy, a degradation pathway that might promote the survival of neoplasm cells that are exposed to anti-cancer therapy. Chloroquine (CQ), a well-known anti-malarial and anti-rheumatic drug, suppresses autophagy. Based on our previous results, we hypothesized that CQ may enhance the anti-tumorigenic effects of mTORi by inhibiting autophagy and we aimed to examine the anti-tumorigenic effect of CQ, alone or in combination with RAD001. We established a NEN subcutaneous xenograft mouse model and evaluated the effect of the drugs on tumor growth, mTOR pathway, autophagy and apoptosis. CQ alone and in combination with RAD001 significantly decreased neoplasm volume. Histopathological analysis revealed that the combination of CQ and RAD001 markedly inhibited mTOR activity and neoplasm cell growth, along with accumulation of autophagosomes and increased apoptosis. In conclusion, CQ enhances the anti-tumorigenic effect of RAD001 in vivo by inhibiting autophagy. Clinical trials addressing the effects of CQ therapy on neoplasm progression in patients with NENs, mainly in those treated with mTORi, are warranted.

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Benjamin Easton White, Maralyn R Druce, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Rajaventhan Srirajaskanthan, Eva Maria Gamper, Debra Gray, Ruben Mujica-Mota and John K Ramage

Incidence of neuroendocrine neoplasia (NEN) is increasing, as is use of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measurement in clinical trials. Following development of validated questionnaires, HRQoL is widely used to assess outcomes. This review is intended for healthcare professionals and is based on a selection of data published in the last decade. HRQoL is on par with other clinical endpoints such as performance status. Assessments in clinical trials have been particularly useful for monitoring the symptom burden of NEN, for the effects of treatments on patients’ lives, and have provided new data allied to the usual clinical endpoints. QoL expressed as quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) have become the most important primary outcome to establish cost-effectiveness in health economic evaluation. From looking at clinical trials over the last 10 years, we see that the quality of HRQoL evidence reported in published studies has improved and, in general, recent studies are likely to be more methodologically robust. Assessment of HRQoL in clinical trials is likely to become a standard part of clinical practice in NEN, as in other cancers. However, clear methods for calculating the clinical meaningfulness of changes in scores are needed. Other limitations of HRQoL measurement include lack of specificity to certain symptom sets and ease of completion and administration. An international group taking a lead on developing HRQoL research specifically in NEN patients is needed to address limitations of the evidence base. In order for greater weight to be placed on HRQoL data, agreement on optimal, validated scoring systems is needed.

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Esben Andreas Carlsen, Nicola Fazio, Dan Granberg, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Hojjat Ahmadzadehfar, Chiara Maria Grana, Wouter T Zandee, Jaroslaw Cwikla, Martin A Walter, Peter Sandor Oturai, Anja Rinke, Andrew Weaver, Andrea Frilling, Sara Gritti, Anne Kirstine Arveschoug, Amichay Meirovitz, Ulrich Knigge and Halfdan Sorbye

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is an established treatment of metastatic neuroendocrine tumors grade 1–2 (G1–G2). However, its possible benefit in high-grade gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) neuroendocrine neoplasms (NEN G3) is largely unknown. We therefore aimed to assess the benefits and side effects of PRRT in patients with GEP NEN G3. We performed a retrospective cohort study at 12 centers to assess the efficacy and toxicity of PRRT in patients with GEP NEN G3. Outcomes were response rate, disease control rate, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and toxicity. We included 149 patients (primary tumor: pancreatic n = 89, gastrointestinal n = 34, unknown n = 26). PRRT was first-line (n = 30), second-line (n = 62) or later-line treatment (n = 57). Of 114 patients evaluated, 1% had complete response, 41% partial response, 38% stable disease and 20% progressive disease. Of 104 patients with documented progressive disease before PRRT, disease control rate was 69%. The total cohort had median PFS of 14 months and OS of 29 months. Ki-67 21–54% (n = 125) vs Ki-67 ≥55% (n = 23): PFS 16 vs 6 months (P < 0.001) and OS 31 vs 9 months (P < 0.001). Well (n = 60) vs poorly differentiated NEN (n = 62): PFS 19 vs 8 months (P < 0.001) and OS 44 vs 19 months (P < 0.001). Grade 3–4 hematological or renal toxicity occurred in 17% of patients. This large multicenter cohort of patients with GEP NEN G3 treated with PRRT demonstrates promising response rates, disease control rates, PFS and OS as well as toxicity in patients with mainly progressive disease. Based on these results, PRRT may be considered for patients with GEP NEN G3.

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Tobias Krauss, Alfonso Massimiliano Ferrara, Thera P Links, Ulrich Wellner, Irina Bancos, Andrey Kvachenyuk, Karina Villar Gómez de las Heras, Marina Y Yukina, Roman Petrov, Garrett Bullivant, Laura von Duecker, Swati Jadhav, Ursula Ploeckinger, Staffan Welin, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, Oliver Gimm, Marija Pfeifer, Joanne Ngeow, Kornelia Hasse-Lazar, Gabriela Sansó, Xiaoping Qi, M Umit Ugurlu, Rene E Diaz, Nelson Wohllk, Mariola Peczkowska, Jens Aberle, Delmar M Lourenço Jr, Maria A A Pereira, Maria C B V Fragoso, Ana O Hoff, Madson Q Almeida, Alice H D Violante, Ana R P Quidute, Zhewei Zhang, Mònica Recasens, Luis Robles Díaz, Tada Kunavisarut, Taweesak Wannachalee, Sirinart Sirinvaravong, Eric Jonasch, Simona Grozinsky-Glasberg, Merav Fraenkel, Dmitry Beltsevich, Viacheslav I Egorov, Dirk Bausch, Matthias Schott, Nikolaus Tiling, Gianmaria Pennelli, Stefan Zschiedrich, Roland Därr, Juri Ruf, Timm Denecke, Karl-Heinrich Link, Stefania Zovato, Ernst von Dobschuetz, Svetlana Yaremchuk, Holger Amthauer, Özer Makay, Attila Patocs, Martin K Walz, Tobias B Huber, Jochen Seufert, Per Hellman, Raymond H Kim, Ekaterina Kuchinskaya, Francesca Schiavi, Angelica Malinoc, Nicole Reisch, Barbara Jarzab, Marta Barontini, Andrzej Januszewicz, Nalini Shah, William F Young Jr, Giuseppe Opocher, Charis Eng, Hartmut P H Neumann and Birke Bausch

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) are rare in von Hippel–Lindau disease (VHL) but cause serious morbidity and mortality. Management guidelines for VHL-PanNETs continue to be based on limited evidence, and survival data to guide surgical management are lacking. We established the European-American-Asian-VHL-PanNET-Registry to assess data for risks for metastases, survival and long-term outcomes to provide best management recommendations. Of 2330 VHL patients, 273 had a total of 484 PanNETs. Median age at diagnosis of PanNET was 35 years (range 10–75). Fifty-five (20%) patients had metastatic PanNETs. Metastatic PanNETs were significantly larger (median size 5 vs 2 cm; P < 0.001) and tumor volume doubling time (TVDT) was faster (22 vs 126 months; P = 0.001). All metastatic tumors were ≥2.8 cm. Codons 161 and 167 were hotspots for VHL germline mutations with enhanced risk for metastatic PanNETs. Multivariate prediction modeling disclosed maximum tumor diameter and TVDT as significant predictors for metastatic disease (positive and negative predictive values of 51% and 100% for diameter cut-off ≥2.8 cm, 44% and 91% for TVDT cut-off of ≤24 months). In 117 of 273 patients, PanNETs >1.5 cm in diameter were operated. Ten-year survival was significantly longer in operated vs non-operated patients, in particular for PanNETs <2.8 cm vs ≥2.8 cm (94% vs 85% by 10 years; P = 0.020; 80% vs 50% at 10 years; P = 0.030). This study demonstrates that patients with PanNET approaching the cut-off diameter of 2.8 cm should be operated. Mutations in exon 3, especially of codons 161/167 are at enhanced risk for metastatic PanNETs. Survival is significantly longer in operated non-metastatic VHL-PanNETs.