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Dawei Wu, Dongwei Lv, Ting Zhang, Lianying Guo, Fangli Ma, Caihua Zhang, Guofeng Lv and Lin Huang

Ewing sarcoma family tumors (ESFTs) are a group of aggressive and highly metastatic tumors lacking efficient therapies. Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) blockade is one of the most efficient targeting therapy for ESFTs. However, the appliance is obstructed by drug resistance and disease recurrence due to the activation of insulin receptor (IR) signaling induced by IGF1R blockade. Herein β-elemene, a compound derived from natural plants, exhibited a remarkable proliferation repression on ESFT cells, which was weakened by a caspase inhibitor Z-VAD. β-elemene in combination with IGF1R inhibitors enhanced markedly the repression on cellular proliferation and mTOR activation by IGF1R inhibitors and suppressed the PI3K phosphorylation induced by IGF1R inhibitors. To investigate the mechanisms, we focused on the effects of β-elemene on IR signaling pathway. β-elemene significantly suppressed the insulin-driven cell growth and the activation of mTOR and PI3K in tumor cells, while the toxicity to normal hepatocytes was much lower. Further, the phosphorylation of IR was found to be suppressed notably by β-elemene specifically in tumor cells other than normal hepatocytes. In addition, β-elemene inhibited the growth of ESFT xenografts in vivo, and the phosphorylation of IR and S6 ribosomal protein was significantly repressed in the β-elemene-treated xenografts. These data suggest that β-elemene targets IR phosphorylation to inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells specifically and enhance the effects of IGF1R inhibitors. Thus, this study provides evidence for novel approaches by β-elemene alone or in combination with IGF1R blockades in ESFTs and IR signaling hyperactivated tumors.

Free access

Yu-fang Bi, Rui-xin Liu, Lei Ye, Hai Fang, Xiao-ying Li, Wei-qing Wang, Ji Zhang, Kan-Kan Wang, Lei Jiang, Ting-wei Su, Zhong-yuan Chen and Guang Ning

Although there has been increased knowledge about the molecular biology of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), little is known about thymic carcinoids and even less about those with excessive hormone disorders, such as ectopic ACTH syndrome. This study was designed to gain insights into the molecular networks underlying the tumorigenesis of thymic carcinoids with ACTH secretion. By an approach integrating cDNA microarray and methods of computational biology, we compare gene expression profile between ACTH-producing thymic carcinoids and the normal thymus. In total, there are 63 biological categories increased and 108 decreased in thymic carcinoids. Cell proliferation was stimulated, which may explain the relatively uncontrolled cell growth of the tumor. Dysregulation of the Notch-signaling pathway was likely to be underlying the neuroendocrine features of this type of tumors. Moreover, inhibition of immunity and increased neuropeptide signaling molecules (POMC and its sorting molecule CPE) made the clinical manifestation reasonable and thus validated the array data. In conclusion, thymic carcinoids have a distinct gene expression pattern from the normal thymus, and they are characterized by deregulations of a series of biofunctions, which may be involved in the development of NETs. Hence, this study has provided not only a detailed comprehension of the molecular pathogenesis of thymic carcinoids with ectopic ACTH syndrome, but also a road map to approach thymic NETs at the system level.