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  • Author: Todd P W McMullen x
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Matthew G K Benesch, Yi M Ko, Xiaoyun Tang, Jay Dewald, Ana Lopez-Campistrous, Yuan Y Zhao, Raymond Lai, Jonathan M Curtis, David N Brindley and Todd P W McMullen

Autotaxin is a secreted enzyme that converts extracellular lysophosphatidylcholine to lysophosphatidate (LPA). In cancers, LPA increases tumour growth, metastasis and chemoresistance by activating six G-protein coupled receptors. We examined >200 human thyroid biopsies. Autotaxin expression in metastatic deposits and primary carcinomas was four- to tenfold higher than in benign neoplasms or normal thyroid tissue. Autotaxin immunohistochemical staining was also increased in benign neoplasms with leukocytic infiltrations. Malignant tumours were distinguished from benign tumours by high tumour autotaxin, LPA levels and inflammatory mediators including IL1β, IL6, IL8, GMCSF, TNFα, CCL2, CXCL10 and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-AA. We determined the mechanistic explanation for these results and revealed a vicious regulatory cycle in which LPA increased the secretion of 16 inflammatory modulators in papillary thyroid cancer cultures. Conversely, treating cancer cells with ten inflammatory cytokines and chemokines or PDGF-AA and PDGF-BB increased autotaxin secretion. We confirmed that this autotaxin/inflammatory cycle occurs in two SCID mouse models of papillary thyroid cancer by blocking LPA signalling using the autotaxin inhibitor ONO-8430506. This decreased the levels of 16 inflammatory mediators in the tumours and was accompanied by a 50–60% decrease in tumour volume. This resulted from a decreased mitotic index for the cancer cells and decreased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor and angiogenesis in the tumours. Our results demonstrate that the autotaxin/inflammatory cycle is a focal point for driving malignant thyroid tumour progression and possibly treatment resistance. Inhibiting autotaxin activity provides an effective and novel strategy for decreasing the inflammatory phenotype in thyroid carcinomas, which should complement other treatment modalities.

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Michael Wagner, Melinda Wuest, Ana Lopez-Campistrous, Darryl Glubrecht, Jennifer Dufour, Hans-Soenke Jans, Frank Wuest and Todd P W McMullen

Targeted therapy is increasingly used to manage metastatic papillary thyroid cancer. The focus of the present study was to examine glucose metabolism and tumor responses for thyroid cancer xenografts expressing the glycolytic pathway modulators platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) and BRAFV600E. Radiolabelled glucose derivative [18F]FDG was used to analyze the effects of PDGFR blockade with imatinib, BRAF blockade with vemurafenib, as well as combined PDGFR and BRAF blockade in vitro and in vivo with PET. Dynamic PET data was correlated with immunohistochemistry staining and kinetic analysis for facilitative glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1) and hexokinase-II (HK2). Vemurafenib decreased [18F]FDG uptake in BCPAP cells in vitro; however, it was increased by ~70% with imatinib application to BCPAP cells. This metabolic response to tyrosine kinase inhibition required BRAFV600E as it was not seen in cell lines lacking mutated BRAF (TPC1). In xenografts, imatinib therapy in BCPAP thyroid tumour-bearing mice significantly increased [18F]FDG uptake and retention (>30%) in BCPAP tumours with PDGFRβ or both (α+β) isoforms. Kinetic analysis revealed that the increased glucose uptake is a consequence of increased phosphorylation and intracellular trapping of [18F]FDG confirmed by an increase in HK2 protein expression and activity, but not GLUT1 activity. BRAF inhibition alone, or combined PDGFR and BRAF inhibition, reduced (~60%) [18F]FDG uptake in both types of BCPAP (β or α+β) tumours. In terms of tumour growth, combination therapy with imatinib and vemurafenib led to a near abolition of the tumors (~90% reduction), but single therapy for BCPAP with PDGFRα expression was much less effective. In summary, imatinib led to a paradoxical increase of [18F]FDG uptake in xenografts that was reversed through BRAFV600E inhibition. The present data show that metabolic reprogramming in thyroid cancer occurs as a consequence of BRAF-mediated upregulation of HK2 expression that may permit tumour growth with isolated blockade of upstream tyrosine kinase receptors.