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  • Author: Wei-Jun Wei x
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Wei-Jun Wei, Heather Hardin and Quan-Yong Luo

Thyroid cancer is one of the most common endocrine malignancies. Although the prognosis for the majority of thyroid cancers is relatively good, patients with metastatic, radioiodine-refractory or anaplastic thyroid cancers have an unfavorable outcome. With the gradual understanding of the oncogenic events in thyroid cancers, molecularly targeted therapy using tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) is greatly changing the therapeutic landscape of radioiodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancers (RR-DTCs), but intrinsic and acquired drug resistance, as well as adverse effects, may limit their clinical efficacy and use. In this setting, development of synergistic treatment options is of clinical significance, which may enhance the therapeutic effect of current TKIs and further overcome the resultant drug resistance. Autophagy is a critical cellular process involved not only in protecting cells and organisms from stressors but also in the maintenance and development of various kinds of cancers. Substantial studies have explored the complex role of autophagy in thyroid cancers. Specifically, autophagy plays important roles in mediating the drug resistance of small-molecular therapeutics, in regulating the dedifferentiation process of thyroid cancers, and also in affecting the treatment outcome of radioiodine therapy. Exploring how autophagy intertwines in the development and dedifferentiation process of thyroid cancers is essential, which will enable a more profound understanding of the physiopathology of thyroid cancers. More importantly, these advances may fuel future development of autophagy-targeted therapeutic strategies for patients with thyroid cancers. Herein, we summarize the most recent evidence uncovering the role of autophagy in thyroid cancers, and highlight future research perspectives in this regard.

Open access

Dong Wang, Jia-Fu Feng, Ping Zeng, Yun-Hong Yang, Jun Luo and Yu-Wei Yang

Oxidative stress is considered to be involved in the pathophysiology of all cancers. In order to evaluate the total oxidant/antioxidant status in patients with thyroid cancer and to investigate the relationship between oxidative stress parameters and serum thyroid profiles among thyroid cancer patients and various controls, we determined oxidative status including total antioxidant status (TAS) and total oxidant status (TOS) and calculation of oxidative stress index (OSI) in sera in 82 thyroid cancer patients, 56 benign thyroid disease patients, and 50 healthy controls. It was found that serum TAS levels were significantly lower in patients with thyroid cancer than in controls (P<0.001), while serum TOS levels and OSI values were significantly higher (both P<0.001) in the cancer patients. No significant correlations were observed between various oxidative stress markers and thyroid profiles in either the thyroid cancer patients or the controls. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis demonstrated that OSI was the best indicator for distinguishing cancer patients from benign thyroid diseased or healthy controls, followed by TOS and TAS. Risk estimate statistics also indicated that TOS and/or OSI were good risk factors to discriminate patients with thyroid cancer from two controls. These findings suggested that oxidants are increased and antioxidants are decreased in patients with thyroid cancer. OSI may be a more useful oxidative stress biomarker than TAS and TOS for monitoring the clinical status of thyroid cancer patients.

Open access

Jing Nie, Guang-long Huang, Sheng-Ze Deng, Yun Bao, Ya-Wei Liu, Zhan-Peng Feng, Chao-Hu Wang, Ming Chen, Song-Tao Qi and Jun Pan

Craniopharyngiomas (CPs) are usually benign, non-metastasizing embryonic malformations originating from the sellar area. They are, however, locally invasive and generate adherent interfaces with the surrounding brain parenchyma. Previous studies have shown the tumor microenvironment is characterized by a local abundance of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), infiltration of leukocytes and elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines that are thought to be responsible, at least in part, for the local invasion. Here, we examine whether ATP, via the P2X7R, participates in the regulation of cytokine expression in CPs. The expression of P2X7R and pro-inflammatory cytokines were measured at the RNA and protein levels both in tumor samples and in primary cultured tumor cells. Furthermore, cytokine modulation was measured after manipulating P2X7R in cultured tumor cells by siRNA-mediated knockdown, as well as pharmacologically by using selective agonists and antagonists. The following results were observed. A number of cytokines, in particular IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1, were elevated in patient plasma, tumor tissue and cultured tumor cells. P2X7R was expressed in tumor tissue as well as in cultured tumor cells. RNA expression as measured in 48 resected tumors was positively correlated with the RNA levels of IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1 in tumors. Furthermore, knockdown of P2X7R in primary tumor cultures reduced, and stimulation of P2XR7 by a specific agonist enhanced the expression of these cytokines. This latter stimulation involved a Ca2+-dependent mechanism and could be counteracted by the addition of an antagonist. In conclusion, the results suggest that P2X7R may promote IL-6, IL-8 and MCP-1 production and secretion and contribute to the invasion and adhesion of CPs to the surrounding tissue.