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Open access

Christie G. Turin, Molly M. Crenshaw, and Lauren Fishbein

Pheochromocytomas (PCCs) and paragangliomas (PGLs) are neuroendocrine tumors arising from the adrenal medulla and extra-adrenal ganglia, respectively. Approximately 15-25% of PCC/PGL can become metastatic. Up to 30-40% of patients with PCC/PGL have a germline pathogenic variant in a known susceptibility gene for PCC/PGL; therefore, all patients with PCC/PGL should undergo clinical genetic testing. Most of the susceptibility genes are associated with varying penetrance for PCC/PGL and are associated with varying syndromes including susceptibility for other tumors and conditions. The objective of this review is to provide an overview of the germline susceptibility genes for PCC/PGL, the associated clinical syndromes, and recommended surveillance.

Open access

Yixi Bi, Safwaan Adam, Viktoria Chatzimavridou, Paul Lorigan, and Yinglai Huang

Short synacthen tests (SST) are frequently used for assessing adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) deficiency. We present the case of a 53-year-old man receiving immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma, who subsequently developed immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) induced hypothyroidism and was investigated for the presence of ICI-induced hypocortisolaemia on different occasions. Despite two reassuring SSTs, he subsequently developed clinical and biochemical evidence of ACTH deficiency. The ACTH on local measurement was not conclusively in keeping with ICI related ACTH deficiency but when repeated using an alternative assay, confirmed the diagnosis. The case illustrates the evolution of ACTH deficiency and exposes the potential pitfalls of screening strategies. Two important lessons may be gleaned from this case:

i) SSTs can be normal in early cases of secondary adrenal insufficiency e.g. hypophysitis due to adrenal reserve.

ii) When there is mismatch between the clinical and biochemical presentation, the ACTH should be repeated using a different assay.

Open access

Sean McSweeney, Hannah E Bergom, Anna Prizment, Susan Halabi, Nima Sharifi, Charles Ryan, and Justin Hwang

The androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathway regulates progression of prostate cancer (PC). Metastatic castration resistant prostate cancers (mCRPC) patients generally receive AR targeted therapies (ART) or androgen-deprivation therapies (ADT) with initial response, however resistance is inevitably observed. Prior studies have shown activity and upregulation of a family of androgen production, uptake, and conversion- APUC genes- based on genomic analyses of patient germlines. Genetic variants of some APUC genes, such as the conversion gene, HSD3B1, predict response to 2nd generation androgen targeted therapies. Studies have begun to elucidate the overall role of APUC genes, each with unique actionable enzymatic activity, in mCRPC patient outcomes. The current role and knowledge of the genetic and genomic features of APUC genes in advanced prostate cancer and beyond is discussed in this review. These studies inform of how interpreting behavior of APUC genes through genomic tools will impact the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

Open access

Syed Ehsanullah and Nikolaos A Trikalinos

Summary

Downregulation of tumor suppression genes by DNA hypermethylation has been proposed as a potential cause of neuroendocrine neoplasm (NEN) formation. In this report, we present a patient simultaneously diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and a metastatic nonfunctioning pancreatic NEN. Because of the two competing diagnoses, he was treated with lanreotide, venetoclax and a long course of the hypomethylating agent decitabine. The AML responded to venetoclax and decitabine treatment while the PanNEN stabilized on lanreotide. Over multiple months of treatment, the PanNEN showed gradual tumor response, consistent with decitabine treatment effect, and the patient remained without disease progression for both malignancies. We believe that some PanNENs can benefit from treatment with hypomethylating agents such as decitabine. To support this, we review the relevant literature and suggest a mechanism for the efficacy of decitabine in our case.

Learning points

  • Neuroendocrine neoplasms are associated with an increased risk of second primary cancers.

  • Epigenetic changes such as hypermethylation and inhibition of tumor suppressor genes might explain the development and behavior of certain NENs.

  • The use of hypomethylating agents such as decitabine might have a role in the treatment of PanNENs. Future studies are needed to confirm that.

Open access

Sunita M C De Sousa

The current treatment paradigm for prolactinomas involves dopamine agonist (DA) therapy as the first-line treatment, with surgical resection reserved for cases where there is DA failure due to resistance or intolerance. This review highlights how DA therapy can be optimised to overcome its increasingly recognised pitfalls, whilst also addressing the potential for expanding the use of surgery in the management of prolactinomas. The first part of the review discusses the limitations of DA therapy, namely: DA resistance; common DA side effects; and the rare but serious DA-induced risks of cardiac valvulopathy, impulse control disorders, psychosis, CSF rhinorrhoea and tumour fibrosis. The second part of the review explores the role of surgery in prolactinoma management with reference to its current second-line position and recent calls for surgery to be considered as an alternative first-line treatment alongside DA therapy. Randomised trials comparing medical vs surgical therapy for prolactinomas are currently underway. Pending these results, a low surgical threshold approach is herein proposed, whereby DA therapy remains the default treatment for prolactinomas unless there are specific triggers to consider surgery, including concern regarding DA side effects or risks in vulnerable patients, persistent and bothersome DA side effects, emergence of any serious risks of DA therapy, expected need for long-term DA therapy, as well as the traditional indications for surgery. This approach should optimise the use of DA therapy for those who will most benefit from it, whilst instituting surgery early in others in order to minimise the cumulative burden of prolonged DA therapy.

Open access

Anna Stroud, Pearl Dhaliwal, Richard J Harvey, Raquel Alvarado, Benjamin P Jonker, Mark J Winder, Jessica W Grayson, and Ann McCormack

Objective

Transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) is the first-line treatment for Cushing’s disease. The objectives of the study were to determine remission and recurrence rates after TSS for Cushing’s disease, identify factors that predict these outcomes, and define the threshold for postoperative morning serum cortisol (MSeC) that most accurately predicts sustained remission.

Methods

Records were retrospectively reviewed for consecutive adults undergoing TSS for Cushing’s disease at a tertiary centre (1990–2019). Remission was defined as MSeC <138 nmol/L by 6 weeks postoperatively. Recurrence was defined as elevated 24-h urine free cortisol, lack of suppression after dexamethasone or elevated midnight salivary cortisol.

Results

In this study, 42 patients (age 47 ± 13 years, 83% female) were assessed with 55 ± 56 months of follow-up. Remission occurred after 77% of primary (n = 30) and 42% of revision operations (n = 12). After primary surgery, remission was associated with lower MSeC nadir (26 ± 36 nmol/L vs 347 ± 220 nmol/L, P  < 0.01) and lower adrenocorticotropin nadir (2 ± 3 pmol/L vs 6 ± 3 pmol/L, P = 0.01). Sustained remission 5 years after surgery was predicted by MSeC <92 nmol/L within 2 weeks postoperatively (sensitivity 100% and specificity 100%). After revision surgery, remission was predicted by lower MSeC nadir (70 ± 45 nmol/L vs 408 ± 305 nmol/L, P = 0.03), smaller tumour diameter (3 ± 2 mm vs 15 ± 13 mm, P = 0.05) and absence of cavernous sinus invasion (0% vs 71%, P = 0.03). Recurrence after primary and revision surgery occurred in 17% and 20% of patients respectively.

Conclusions

Lower postoperative MSeC nadir strongly predicted remission after both primary and revision surgery. Following primary surgery, an MSeC <92 nmol/L within 2 weeks predicted sustained remission at 5 years. MSeC nadir was the most important prognostic marker following TSS for Cushing’s disease.

Open access

Sara Coelho, Cláudia Costa, Ana Paula Santos, Pedro Souteiro, Joana Oliveira, Júlio Oliveira, Isabel Azevedo, Isabel Torres, and Maria José Bento

Objectives

Therapeutic options for pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasia (Pan-NEN) have increased over the last decade. We aim to understand the evolution of the prognosis of patients with diagnosis of Pan-NEN within a 12-year period, considering the implementation of new treatments.

Methods

This study is a retrospective cohort study of patients diagnosed with Pan-NENs between 2006 and 2017. Survival outcome estimates were calculated by Kaplan–Meier method. The impact of baseline clinicopathological characteristics on survival was explored with the use of Cox proportional hazard model.

Results

Of the 97 patients, 77 (79.9%) had well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumor (NET) according to WHO 2010 classification, and 52 (53.6%) had localized or locoregional disease. There were no differences between clinicopathological characteristics and survival outcomes when comparing patients diagnosed between 2006–2011 and 2012–2017. Neuroendocrine carcinoma – HR 2.76, 95% CI 1.17–6.55 – and stages III and IV at diagnosis were independent poor prognostic factors – HR 6.02, 95% CI 2.22–16.33 and HR 6.93, 95% CI 2.94–16.32, respectively.

Conclusions

The new therapeutic approaches did not induce better survival outcomes on Pan-NEN in recent years. This is possibly due to the indolent nature of NET grades 1 and 2, even metastatic, allowing patients to be submitted to new target therapies along their disease course.

Open access

Erika Peverelli, Donatella Treppiedi, and Giovanna Mantovani

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary tumors mainly express somatostatin receptor 5 (SSTR5) since SSTR2 is downregulated by the elevated levels of glucocorticoids that characterize patients with Cushing’s disease (CD). SSTR5 is the molecular target of pasireotide, the only approved pituitary tumor-targeted drug for the treatment of CD. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate SSTR5 are still poorly investigated. This review summarizes the experimental evidence supporting the role of the cytoskeleton actin-binding protein filamin A (FLNA) in the regulation of SSTR5 expression and signal transduction in corticotroph tumors. Moreover, the correlations between the presence of somatic USP8 mutations and the expression of SSTR5 will be reviewed. An involvement of glucocorticoid-mediated β-arrestins modulation in regulating SSTRs expression and function in ACTH-secreting tumors will also be discussed.

Open access

Sylvia L Asa and Shereen Ezzat

The entity known as pituitary carcinoma has been traditionally defined as a tumor of adenohypophysial cells that metastasizes systemically or craniospinally independent of the histological appearance of the lesion. Reported cases of pituitary carcinoma have clinically and histologically resembled their non-metastatic counterparts that were classified as adenomas; the majority of cases were initially diagnosed as adenomas, and with tumor progression and spread, the diagnosis was changed to carcinoma. This classification has been challenged since the definition of malignancy in most organs is not based only on metastatic spread. The extent of local invasion resulting in an inability to completely resect an adenohypophysial tumor can have serious consequences that can cause harm and are therefore not benign. To address this dilemma, it was proposed that pituitary tumors be classified as neuroendocrine tumors. This change in nomenclature is totally appropriate since these tumors are composed of classical neuroendocrine cells; as with other neuroendocrine tumors, they have variable behavior that can be indolent but can involve metastasis. With the new nomenclature, there is no requirement for a distinction between adenomas and carcinomas. Moreover, the WHO/IARC has provided an overarching classification for neuroendocrine neoplasms at all body sites; in this new classification, the term ‘neuroendocrine carcinoma’ is reserved for poorly differentiated high-grade malignancies that are clinically, morphologically and genetically distinct from well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors. It remains to be determined if there are true pituitary neuroendocrine carcinomas.

Open access

Nadia Gagnon, Sophie Bernard, Martine Paquette, Catherine Alguire, André Lacroix, Pierre-Olivier Hétu, Harold J Olney, and Isabelle Bourdeau

Background

This study examined the magnitude of changes and the time required to observe maximal changes in LDL-c, HDL-c, triglycerides (Tg) and non-HDL-c after the introduction of mitotane.

Methods

Retrospective study of 45 patients with adrenocortical carcinoma who were treated at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal. Clinical and biochemical data were collected, including lipid profiles before and during the first year of treatment with mitotane.

Results

Among the 45 studied patients, 26 (58%) had a complete lipid profile before the introduction of mitotane and at least 1 lipid profile during the first year of treatment, and 19 patients (42%) had a lipid profile following initiation of the treatment. Among the 26 patients who had lipid profiles before and after the introduction of mitotane, the increase of LDL-c was 2.19 mmol/L (76%) (P< 0.0001), HDL-c was 0.54 mmol/L (35%) (P= 0.0002), Tg was 1.80 mmol/L (129%) (P< 0.0001) and non-HDL-c was 2.73 mmol/L (79%) (P< 0.0001). Between the first and the sixth month of mitotane treatment, peak values (n  = 45) of LDL-c and non-HDL-c were reached in 42 patients (93%) and 37 patients (82%), respectively, whereas peak values of HDL-c were reached after 6 months of mitotane treatment in 29 patients (66%). The peak value of Tg was almost equal throughout the first year. The mean peak values of HDL-c, Tg and non-HDL-c showed significant associations with their respective mitotane concentrations (β = 0.352, P= 0.03; β = 0.406, P= 0.02 and β = 0.339, P= 0.05).

Conclusion

The introduction of mitotane produces a clinically significant elevation of lipid parameters (LDL-c, HDL-c, Tg and non-HDL-c) during the first year of treatment.