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Wouter W de Herder and Charis Eng

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Wouter W de Herder, Erik P Krenning and Gabriel P Krestin

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W W de Herder, L J Hofland, A J van der Lely and S W J Lamberts

Five somatostatin receptor (sst) subtype genes, sst(1), sst(2), sst(3), sst(4) and sst(5), have been cloned and characterised. The five sst subtypes all bind natural somatostatin-14 and somatostatin-28 with high affinity. Endocrine pancreatic and endocrine digestive tract tumours also express multiple sst subtypes, but sst(2) predominance is generally found. However, there is considerable variation in sst subtype expression between the different tumour types and among tumours of the same type. The predominant expression of sst(2) receptors on pancreatic endocrine or carcinoid tumours is essential for the control of hormonal hypersecretion by the octapeptide somatostatin analogues such as octreotide and lanreotide. Somatostatin and its octapeptide analogues are also able to inhibit proliferation of normal and tumour cells. The high density of sst(2) or sst(5) on pancreatic endocrine or carcinoid tumours further allows the use of radiolabelled somatostatin analogues for in vivo visualisation. The predominant expression of sst(2) receptors in these tumours and the efficiency of sst(2) receptors to undergo agonist-induced internalisation is also essential for the application of radiolabelled octapeptide somatostatin analogues. Currently, [(111)In-DTPA(0)]octreotide, [(90)Y-DOTA(0),Tyr(3)]octreotide, [(177)Lu-DOTA(0)Tyr(3)]octreotate, [(111)In-DOTA(0)]lanreotide and [(90)Y-DOTA(0)]lanreotide can be used for this purpose.

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W W de Herder, E P Krenning, C H J Van Eijck and S W J Lamberts

Endocrine tumours of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas may present at different disease stages with either hormonal or hormone-related symptoms/syndromes, or without hormonal symptoms. They may occur either sporadically or as part of hereditary syndromes. In the therapeutic approach to a patient with these tumours, excessive hormonal secretion and/or its effects should always be controlled first. Tumour-related deficiencies or disorders should also be corrected. Subsequently, control should be aimed at the tumour growth. Surgery is generally considered as first-line therapy for patients with localized disease, as it can be curative. However, in patients with metastatic disease the role of first-line surgery is not clearly established and other therapies should be considered, such as non-surgical cytoreductive therapies, biotherapy (with somatostatin analogues or interferon-alpha), embolization and chemoembolization of liver metastases, chemotherapy (with single or multiple dose regimens) and peptide receptor-targeted radiotherapy. The delicate balance of the use of the different therapeutical options in patients with endocrine tumours of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas emphasizes the importance of team approach and team expertise.

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R van der Pas, W W de Herder, L J Hofland and R A Feelders

Cushing's syndrome (CS) is a severe endocrine disorder characterized by chronic cortisol excess due to an ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma, ectopic ACTH production, or a cortisol-producing adrenal neoplasia. Regardless of the underlying cause, untreated CS is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. Surgery is the primary therapy for all causes of CS, but surgical failure and ineligibility of the patient to undergo surgery necessitate alternative treatment modalities. The role of medical therapy in CS has been limited because of lack of efficacy or intolerability. In recent years, however, new targets for medical therapy have been identified, both at the level of the pituitary gland (e.g. somatostatin, dopamine, and epidermal growth factor receptors) and the adrenal gland (ectopically expressed receptors in ACTH-independent macronodular adrenal hyperplasia). In this review, results of preclinical and clinical studies with drugs that exert their action through these molecular targets, as well as already established medical treatment options, will be discussed.

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Wouter T Zandee, Kimberly Kamp, Roxanne C van Adrichem, Richard A Feelders and Wouter W de Herder

The treatment of hormone hypersecretory syndromes caused by neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) can be a major challenge. NETs originating from the small intestine often secrete serotonin causing flushing, diarrhea and valve fibrosis, leading to dehydration or heart failure in severe cases. NETs from the pancreas can secrete a wider variety of hormones, like insulin, glucagon and gastrin leading to distinct clinical syndromes. Historically mortality in patients with functioning NETs was high due to the complications caused by the hypersecretion of hormones. This has been reduced with several drugs: proton-pump inhibitors decrease acid secretion caused by gastrinomas. Somatostatin analogs can inhibit the secretion of multiple hormones and these are now the cornerstone for treating patients with a gastroenteropancreatic NET. However, peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) with radiolabeled somatostatin analogs and everolimus can also decrease symptoms of hypersecretion and increase progression-free survival. Several factors affect the survival in patients with a functioning NET. Complications of hypersecretion negatively impact survival; however, secretion of hormones is also often a sign of a well-differentiated NET and due to the symptoms, functioning NETs can be detected in an earlier stage suggesting a positive effect on prognosis. The effect on survival is also dependent on the type of hormone being secreted. This review aims to study the effect of hormone secretion on the prognosis of NETs with the contemporary treatments options available today.

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Kimberly Kamp, Ronald A M Damhuis, Richard A Feelders and Wouter W de Herder

An increased association between neuroendocrine tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas (GEP-NET) and other second primary malignancies has been suggested. We determined whether there is indeed an increased risk for second primary malignancies in GEP-NET patients compared with an age- and sex-matched control group of patients with identical malignancies. The series comprised 243 men and 216 women, diagnosed with a GEP-NET between 2000 and 2009 in a tertiary referral center. The timeline, before-at-after diagnosis, and the type of other malignancies were studied using person-year methodology. Poisson distributions were used for testing statistical significance. All data were cross-checked with the Dutch National Cancer Registry. Out of 459 patients with GEP-NET, 67 (13.7%) had a second primary cancer diagnosis: 25 previous cancers (5.4%), 13 synchronous cancers (2.8%), and 29 metachronous cancers (6.3%). The most common types of second primary cancer were breast cancer (n=10), colorectal cancer (n=8), melanoma (n=6), and prostate cancer (n=5). The number of patients with a cancer history was lower than expected, although not significant (n=25 vs n=34.5). The diagnosis of synchronous cancers, mainly colorectal tumors, was higher than expected (n=13 vs n=6.1, P<0.05). Metachronous tumors occurred as frequent as expected (n=29 vs n=25.2, NS). In conclusion, our results are in contrast to previous studies and demonstrate that only the occurrence of synchronous second primary malignancies, mainly colorectal cancers, is increased in GEP-NET patients compared with the general population.

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Gregory Kaltsas, Ioannis I Androulakis, Wouter W de Herder and Ashley B Grossman

Neuroendocrine tumours may be either benign or malignant tumours, and have the ability to synthesise and secrete biologically active substances characteristic of the cell of origin that can cause distinct clinical syndromes. The term ‘paraneoplastic syndromes’ (PNSs) is used to denote syndromes secondary to substances secreted from tumours not related to their specific organ or tissue of origin and/or production of autoantibodies against tumour cells; such syndromes are mainly associated with hormonal and neurological symptoms. Appreciation of the presence of such syndromes is important as clinical presentation, if not identified, may delay the diagnosis of the underlying neoplasia. Conversely, early recognition can allow for more rapid diagnosis, particularly as the coexistence of a neoplasm with a clinical or biochemical marker offers an additional determinant of tumour status/progression. PNSs can complicate the patient's clinical course, response to treatment, impact prognosis and even be confused as metastatic spread. Their diagnosis involves a multidisciplinary approach, and detailed endocrinological, neurological, radiological and histological studies are required. Correct diagnosis is essential as the treatment of choice will be different for each disorder, particularly in the case of malignant tumours; it is therefore important to develop appropriate means to correctly identify and localise these tumours. Clinical awareness and the incorporation into clinical practise of 111In-octreotide scintigraphy, chromogranin A and other evolving biochemical marker measurement techniques have substantially contributed to the identification of patients harbouring such syndromes. Disease-specific medical therapies are mandatory in order to prevent recurrence and/or further tumour growth. Owing to their rarity, central registration of these syndromes is very helpful in order to be able to provide evidence-based diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

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Johannes Hofland, Aura D Herrera-Martínez, Wouter T Zandee and Wouter W de Herder

Carcinoid syndrome (CS) is a debilitating disease caused by functional neuroendocrine tumors. Several treatment options are available to alleviate the hormonal symptoms, but their relative efficacy is unknown. Online databases were searched for publications on the treatment of CS symptoms. Independent reviewers assessed relevant publications for study quality and outcome. Meta-analysis of the outcomes of the intervention on CS-related symptoms was stratified by the type of treatment. We found 3682 therapeutic interventions on CS-specific outcomes were collected from 93 studies. Overall, the study qualities were poor with only six randomized controlled clinical trials. The somatostatin analogs octreotide and lanreotide induced symptomatic improvement in 65–72% and biochemical response in 45–46% of patients. An increase in dose or frequency or interclass switch led to a reduction of flushes and/or diarrhea in 72–84% of cases. Retrospective, institutional series showed that liver-directed therapy can improve symptoms in 82% of CS patients with a liver-dominant disease. The serotonin synthesis inhibitor telotristat ethyl reduced bowel movements in 40% of patients with diarrhea refractory to somatostatin analogs. Interferon-alpha controlled CS symptoms in 45–63% of cases. Favorable response has been noted after radionuclide therapy in subgroup analyses of studies not specifically involving CS patients. Chemotherapy and everolimus did not induce a significant response in the CS. We conclude that several treatment lines can be offered to patients suffering from the carcinoid syndrome. Initiation of randomized controlled trials with a primary outcome on carcinoid syndrome symptoms is strongly recommended.

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Anela Blažević, Johannes Hofland, Leo J Hofland, Richard A Feelders and Wouter W de Herder

Small intestinal neuroendocrine tumours (SI-NETs) are neoplasms characterized by their ability to secrete biogenic amines and peptides. These cause distinct clinical pathology including carcinoid syndrome, marked by diarrhoea and flushing, as well as fibrosis, notably mesenteric fibrosis. Mesenteric fibrosis often results in significant morbidity by causing intestinal obstruction, oedema and ischaemia. Although advancements have been made to alleviate symptoms of carcinoid syndrome and prolong the survival of patients with SI-NETs, therapeutic options for patients with mesenteric fibrosis are still limited. As improved insight in the complex pathogenesis of mesenteric fibrosis is key to the development of new therapies, we evaluated the literature for known and putative mediators of fibrosis in SI-NETs. In this review, we discuss the tumour microenvironment, growth factors and signalling pathways involved in the complex process of fibrosis development and tumour progression in SI-NETs, in order to elucidate potential new avenues for scientific research and therapies to improve the management of patients suffering from the complications of mesenteric fibrosis.