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Open access

Piera Rizzolo, Valentina Silvestri, Virginia Valentini, Veronica Zelli, Agostino Bucalo, Ines Zanna, Simonetta Bianchi, Maria Grazia Tibiletti, Antonio Russo, Liliana Varesco, Gianluca Tedaldi, Bernardo Bonanni, Jacopo Azzollini, Siranoush Manoukian, Anna Coppa, Giuseppe Giannini, Laura Cortesi, Alessandra Viel, Marco Montagna, Paolo Peterlongo, Paolo Radice, Domenico Palli and Laura Ottini

Breast cancer in men is a rare and still poorly characterized disease. Inherited mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and PALB2 genes, as well as common polymorphisms, play a role in male breast cancer genetic predisposition. Male breast cancer is considered a hormone-dependent tumor specifically related to hyperestrogenism. Polymorphisms in genes involved in estrogen biosynthesis and metabolism pathways, such as CYP17A1 and CYP1B1, have been associated with breast cancer risk. Here, we aimed to investigate the role of CYP17A1 and CYP1B1 polymorphisms in male breast cancer risk. A series of 597 male breast cancer cases and 1022 male controls, recruited within the Italian Multicenter Study on male breast cancer, was genotyped for CYP17A1 rs743572, CYP1B1 rs1056836 and rs1800440 polymorphisms by allelic discrimination real-time PCR with TaqMan probes. Associations with male breast cancer risk were estimated using logistic regression. No statistically significant associations between male breast cancer risk and the three analyzed polymorphisms emerged. Similar results were obtained also when BRCA1 /2 mutational status was considered. No significant differences in the distribution of the genotypes according to estrogen receptor status emerged. In conclusion, our study, based on a large series of male breast cancer cases, is likely to exclude a relevant role of CYP17A1 and CYP1B1 polymorphisms in male breast cancer predisposition. Overall, these results add new data to the increasing evidence that polymorphisms in these genes may not be associated with breast cancer risk.

Open access

Simonetta Piana, Eleonora Zanetti, Alessandra Bisagni, Alessia Ciarrocchi, Davide Giordano, Federica Torricelli, Teresa Rossi and Moira Ragazzi

The NOTCH signaling is an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that regulates cell–cell interactions. NOTCH family members play a fundamental role in a variety of processes during development in particular in cell fate decisions. As other crucial factors during embryogenesis, NOTCH signaling is aberrantly reactivated in cancer where it has been linked to context-dependent effects. In thyroid cancer, NOTCH1 expression has been associated to aggressive features even if its in vivo expression within the entire spectrum of thyroid tumors has not definitively established. A series of 106 thyroid specimens including non-neoplastic lesions, benign and malignant tumors of common and rare histotypes, were investigated by immunohistochemistry to assess NOTCH1 expression. Extent of positivity and protein localization were investigated and correlated with clinical and morphological parameters. NOTCH1 positivity was predominantly associated with papillary carcinomas and only occasionally found in follicular carcinomas. Poorly differentiated and undifferentiated thyroid carcinomas showed only a partial positivity. NOTCH1 expression pattern also seemed differently distributed according to histotype. Our data confirm a role of NOTCH1 in thyroid cancer and highlight for the first time the specific involvement of this pathway in papillary carcinomas. Our data also indicate that other thyroid malignancies do not rely on NOTCH1 signaling for development and progression.

Open access

María L Bacigalupo, Verónica G Piazza, Nadia S Cicconi, Pablo Carabias, Andrzej Bartke, Yimin Fang, Ana I Sotelo, Gabriel A Rabinovich, María F Troncoso and Johanna G Miquet

Transgenic mice overexpressing growth hormone (GH) spontaneously develop liver tumors, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), within a year. The preneoplastic liver pathology in these mice recapitulates that observed in humans at high risk of developing hepatic cancer. Although increased expression of galectin 1 (GAL1) in liver tissue is associated with HCC aggressiveness, a link between this glycan-binding protein and hormone-related tumor development has not yet been explored. In this study, we investigated GAL1 expression during liver tumor progression in mice continuously exposed to high levels of GH. GAL1 expression was determined by Western blotting, RT-qPCR and immunohistochemistry in the liver of transgenic mice overexpressing GH. Animals of representative ages at different stages of liver pathology were studied. GAL1 expression was upregulated in the liver of GH-transgenic mice. This effect was observed at early ages, when animals displayed no signs of liver disease or minimal histopathological alterations and was also detected in young adults with preneoplastic liver pathology. Remarkably, GAL1 upregulation was sustained during aging and its expression was particularly enhanced in liver tumors. GH also induced hepatic GAL1 expression in mice that were treated with this hormone for a short period. Moreover, GH triggered a rapid increment in GAL1 protein expression in human HCC cells, denoting a direct effect of the hormone on hepatocytes. Therefore, our results indicate that GH upregulates GAL1 expression in mouse liver, which may have critical implications in tumorigenesis. These findings suggest that this lectin could be implicated in hormone-driven liver carcinogenesis.

Open access

Jordyn Silverstein, Wesley Kidder, Susan Fisher, Thomas A Hope, Samantha Maisel, Dianna Ng, Jessica Van Ziffle, Chloe E Atreya and Katherine Van Loon

Background

Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) during the peri-partum period is challenging to diagnose due to the overlapping symptoms of CRC and pregnancy. This is the first case series to investigate clinicopathologic, hormonal and molecular features of CRC diagnosed during the peri-partum period. We hypothesized that advanced presentations of CRC could possibly be mitigated by pregnancy-related hormonal factors.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective review of five women diagnosed with CRC during the peri-partum period and studied the clinical and molecular features of their cancer.

Results

All patients presented with stage IV CRC at diagnosis; three had primary tumors in the rectum and two had primary tumors in the sigmoid colon. The liver was the most common metastatic site (three of five women). Immunohistochemistry stains were negative for estrogen receptors alpha (ERα) and beta (ERβ), and one tumor demonstrated low-level positivity for PR (1%). Formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) biopsies from each case were tested with next-generation sequencing and found that all tumors were mismatch repair (MMR) proficient, and three harbored a KRAS mutation. Germline testing showed no predisposition to CRC; however, several somatic variants of undetermined significance (VUS) were identified.

Discussion

CRC in the peri-partum period poses significant risk factors for presentations with advanced disease due to diagnostic challenges. While our study provides no evidence that pathogenesis of CRC during pregnancy is driven by elevated estrogen and/or progesterone levels during pregnancy, additional putative etiologic factors, including placental growth factors, the immunosuppressive state of pregnancy and other physiologic processes during pregnancy, warrant future study.

Open access

Yiqiong Ma, Zhaowei Chen, Yu Tao, Jili Zhu, Hongxia Yang, Wei Liang and Guohua Ding

Aims

Previous studies showed that abnormal mitochondrial structure and function were involved in the pathological process of diabetic nephropathy (DN). The dynamic mitochondrial processes, including fusion and fission, maintain the mass and quantity of mitochondria. Podocyte injury is a critical factor in the development and progression of DN. The present study evaluated the mitochondrial fission of podocytes in patients with DN.

Methods

We recruited 31 patients with biopsy-confirmed DN. A quantitative analysis of the mitochondrial morphology was conducted with electron microscopy using a computer-assisted morphometric analysis application to calculate the aspect ratio values. Immunofluorescence assays were used to evaluate protein colocalization in the glomeruli of patients.

Results

The urine protein level was significantly increased in DN patients compared to non-DN patients (P < 0.001), and the mitochondria in the podocytes from DN patients were more fragmentated than those from patients without DN. The mitochondrial aspect ratio values were negatively correlated with the proteinuria levels (r = −0.574, P = 0.01), and multiple regression analysis verified that the mitochondrial aspect ratio was significantly and independently associated with the urine protein level (β = −0.519, P = 0.007). In addition, Drp1, a mitochondrial fission factor, preferentially combines with AKAP1, which is located in the mitochondrial membrane.

Conclusions

In the podocytes of DN patients, mitochondrial fragmentation was increased, and mitochondrial aspect ratio values were correlated with the proteinuria levels. The AKAP1-Drp1 pathway may contribute to mitochondrial fission in the pathogenesis of DN.

Open access

Agnieszka Adamska, Aleksandra Maria Polak, Anna Krentowska, Agnieszka Łebkowska, Justyna Hryniewicka, Monika Leśniewska and Irina Kowalska

Objective

PCOS women are characterized by insulin resistance and have higher tendency to the development of hepatic steatosis. Fetuin-B has been introduced as a hepatokine/adipokine, which is increased in hepatic steatosis and may be connected with glucose metabolism disturbances. The aim of the study was to evaluate the relationships between serum fetuin-B concentration and indices of insulin resistance, insulin secretion and markers of liver steatosis in PCOS women in comparison to the control group.

Patients and methods

The study group included 108 women – 57 women with PCOS and 51 women matched for age and BMI as a control group. Serum concentration of fetuin-B was estimated. Homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and homeostasis model assessment β cell function (HOMA-β) were calculated. Fatty liver index (FLI), lipid accumulation product (LAP) and visceral adiposity index (VAI) were used as markers of liver steatosis.

Results

We found higher serum concentration of fetuin-B and FLI in PCOS women in comparison to the control group (all P < 0.05). We observed a positive relationship between serum fetuin-B concentration and HOMA-β (r = 0.43, P = 0.01), HOMA-IR (r = 0.31, P = 0.01), FLI (r = 0.29, P = 0.02), VAI (r = 0.29, P = 0.02) and LAP (r = 0.32, P = 0.01) in PCOS women. We also noticed a relationship between HOMA-IR and FLI (r = 0.42, P = 0.01), VAI (r = 0.38, P = 0.004) and LAP (r = 0.41, P = 0.001) in this group. Multiple regression analysis revealed that HOMA-β (β = 0.39, P = 0.002) and LAP (β = 0.27, P = 0.02) were independently connected with serum fetuin-B levels in women with PCOS.

Conclusions

Serum fetuin-B levels are higher in women with PCOS and are independently connected with HOMA-β and hepatic steatosis.

Open access

Matilde Calanchini, Michael Tadman, Jesper Krogh, Andrea Fabbri, Ashley Grossman and Brian Shine

Background

The 24-h urinary output of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) is used to monitor disease progression and treatment responses of neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs). Several conditions are required for 5-HIAA assay, involving urine collection/preservation and food/drug restrictions.

Aim

To evaluate the correlation between 5-HIAA concentration in a spot urine sample and the output in a 24-h urine collection, and whether spot urine specimens can replace 24-h collection.

Methods

Patients with NENs or symptoms suggestive of NENs were asked to provide a separate spot urine at the end of the 24-h urine collection for 5-HIAA assessment. The upper reference limit for 24-h urinary 5-HIAA was 40 µmol/24 h. 5-HIAA measurements in spot urine samples were corrected for variation in urine flow rate by expressing results as a ratio to creatinine concentration.

Results

We included 136 paired urinary samples for 5-HIAA assessment from 111 patients (100 NENs). The correlation between 5-HIAA values measured in 24-h and spot urines was r = +0.863 (P < 0.001) and r = +0.840 (P < 0.001) including only NEN patients. Using the 24-h urinary 5-HIAA as reference method, the AUC on ROC analysis for spot urinary 5-HIAA was 0.948 (95% CI, 0.914–0.983; P < 0.001), attaining a sensitivity of 83% and specificity of 95% using 5.3 mol/mmol as cut-off for the spot urine. The AUC among NEN patients alone was 0.945 (95% CI, 0.904–0.987; P < 0.001).

Conclusions

The ratio of 5-HIAA to creatinine in a spot urine could replace the measurement of 5-HIAA output in a 24-h urine collection, especially for follow-up of patients with known elevated 5-HIAA levels.

Open access

Lesley A Hill, Zeynep Sumer-Bayraktar, John G Lewis, Eva Morava, Morten Thaysen-Andersen and Geoffrey L Hammond

Objective

Discrepancies in ELISA measurements of human corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) using detection monoclonal antibodies that recognize an epitope (9G12) within its reactive center loop (RCL), versus an epitope (12G2) in a different location, have suggested that CBG with a proteolytically cleaved RCL exists in blood samples. We have previously been unable to verify this biochemically, and sought to determine if N-glycosylation differences account for discrepancies in ELISA measurements of CBG.

Methods and subjects

Molecular biological, biochemical and glycopeptide analyses were used to examine how N-glycosylation at specific sites, including at N347 within the RCL, affect CBG ELISA or steroid-binding capacity assay (BCA) measurements. Plasma from patients with congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) was also examined in these assays as examples of N-glycosylation defects.

Results

We demonstrate that an N-glycan at N347 within the CBG RCL limits the 9G12 antibody from recognizing its epitope, whereas the 12G2 antibody reactivity is unaffected, thereby contributing to discrepancies in ELISA measurements using these two antibodies. Qualitative differences in N-glycosylation at N238 also negatively affect the steroid-binding of CBG in the absence of an N-glycan at N347 caused by a T349A substitution. Desialylation increased both ELISA measurements relative to BCA values. Similarly, plasma CBG levels in both ELISAs were much higher than BCA values in several CDG patients.

Conclusions

Plasma CBG measurements are influenced by variations in N-glycosylation. This is important given the increasing number of CDG defects identified recently and because N-glycosylation abnormalities are common in patients with metabolic and liver diseases.

Open access

Tiina Vesterinen, Teijo Kuopio, Maarit Ahtiainen, Aija Knuuttila, Harri Mustonen, Kaisa Salmenkivi, Johanna Arola and Caj Haglund

Pulmonary carcinoid (PC) tumors are rare tumors that account for approximately 1% of all lung cancers. The primary treatment option is surgery, while there is no standard treatment for metastatic disease. As the number of PCs diagnosed yearly is increasing, there is a need to establish novel therapeutic options. This study aimed to investigate programmed death protein 1 (PD-1) and programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression in PC tumors since blocking of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway is a promising therapeutic option in various other malignancies. A total of 168 PC patients treated between 1990 and 2013 were collected from the Finnish biobanks. After re-evaluation of the tumors, 131 (78%) were classified as typical carcinoid (TC) and 37 (22%) as atypical carcinoid (AC) tumors. Primary tumor samples were immunohistochemically labeled for PD-1, PD-L1 and CD8. High PD-1 expression was detected in 16% of the tumors. PD-L1 expression was detected in 7% of TC tumors; all AC tumors were PD-L1 negative. PD-L1 expression was associated with mediastinal lymph-node metastasis at the time of diagnosis (P = 0.021) as well as overall metastatic potential of the tumor (P = 0.010). Neither PD-1 expression, PD-L1 expression nor CD8+ T cell density was associated with survival. In conclusion, PD-1 and PD-L1 were expressed in a small proportion of PC tumors and PD-L1 expression was associated with metastatic disease. Targeting of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway with immune checkpoint inhibitors may thus offer a treatment option for a subset of PC patients.

Open access

Elham Barazeghi, Per Hellman, Gunnar Westin and Peter Stålberg

Small intestinal neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs) are small, slow growing neoplasms with loss of one copy of chromosome 18 as a common event. Frequently mutated genes on chromosome 18 or elsewhere have not been found so far. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible tumor suppressor role of the transmembrane receptor type tyrosine phosphatase PTPµ (PTPRM at 18p11) in SI-NETs. Immunohistochemistry, quantitative RT-PCR, colony formation assay and quantitative CpG methylation analysis by pyrosequencing were performed. Undetectable/very low levels of PTPRM or aberrant pattern of immunostaining, with both negative and positive areas, were detected in the majority of tumors (33/40), and a significantly reduced mRNA expression in metastases compared to primary tumors was observed. Both the DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine and the S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase inhibitor 3-deazaneplanocin A (DZNep) induced PTPRM expression in CNDT2.5 and KRJ-I SI-NET cells. CpG methylation of upstream regulatory regions, the promoter region and the exon 1/intron 1 boundary was detected by pyrosequencing analysis of the two cell lines and not in the analyzed SI-NETs. Overexpression of PTPRM in the SI-NET cell lines reduced cell growth and cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. The tyrosine phosphatase activity of PTPRM was not involved in cell growth inhibition. The results support a role for PTPRM as a dysregulated candidate tumor suppressor gene in SI-NETs and further analyses of the involved mechanisms are warranted.