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Open access

Marianne C Astor, Kristian Løvås, Anette S B Wolff, Bjørn Nedrebø, Eirik Bratland, Jon Steen-Johnsen, and Eystein S Husebye

Primary hypomagnesemia with secondary hypocalcemia (HSH) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by neuromuscular symptoms in infancy due to extremely low levels of serum magnesium and moderate to severe hypocalcemia. Homozygous mutations in the magnesium transporter gene transient receptor potential cation channel member 6 (TRPM6) cause the disease. HSH can be misdiagnosed as primary hypoparathyroidism. The aim of this study was to describe the genetic, clinical and biochemical features of patients clinically diagnosed with HSH in a Norwegian cohort. Five patients in four families with clinical features of HSH were identified, including one during a national survey of hypoparathyroidism. The clinical history of the patients and their families were reviewed and gene analyses of TRPM6 performed. Four of five patients presented with generalized seizures in infancy and extremely low levels of serum magnesium accompanied by moderate hypocalcemia. Two of the patients had an older sibling who died in infancy. Four novel mutations and one large deletion in TRPM6 were identified. In one patient two linked homozygous mutations were located in exon 22 (p.F978L) and exon 23 (p.G1042V). Two families had an identical mutation in exon 25 (p.E1155X). The fourth patient had a missense mutation in exon 4 (p.H61N) combined with a large deletion in the C-terminal end of the gene. HSH is a potentially lethal condition that can be misdiagnosed as primary hypoparathyroidism. The diagnosis is easily made if serum magnesium is measured. When treated appropriately with high doses of oral magnesium supplementation, severe hypomagnesemia is uncommon and the long-term prognosis seems to be good.

Open access

Gareth Leng

The brain hosts a vast and diverse repertoire of neuropeptides, a class of signalling molecules often described as neurotransmitters. Here I argue that this description entails a catalogue of misperceptions, misperceptions that feed into a narrative in which information processing in the brain can be understood only through mapping neuronal connectivity and by studying the transmission of electrically conducted signals through chemical synapses. I argue that neuropeptide signalling in the brain involves primarily autocrine, paracrine and neurohormonal mechanisms that do not depend on synaptic connectivity and that it is not solely dependent on electrical activity but on mechanisms analogous to secretion from classical endocrine cells. As in classical endocrine systems, to understand the role of neuropeptides in the brain, we must understand not only how their release is regulated, but also how their synthesis is regulated and how the sensitivity of their targets is regulated. We must also understand the full diversity of effects of neuropeptides on those targets, including their effects on gene expression.

Open access

Olof Joakim Pettersson, Katarzyna Fröss-Baron, Joakim Crona, and Anders Sundin


Monitoring of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNET) undergoing peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) with 177Lu-DOTATATE depends on changes in tumor size, which often occur late. Tumor growth rate (TGR) allows for quantitative assessment of the tumor kinetics expressed as %/month. We explored how TGR changes before and during/after PRRT and evaluated TGR as a biomarker for progression-free survival (PFS).


In PanNET patients undergoing PRRT with 177Lu-DOTATATE from 2006 to 2018, contrast-enhanced CT or MRI was performed before and during the therapy. Patients with at least one hypervascular liver metastasis were included. TGR was calculated for the period preceding treatment and for two intervals during/after PRRT. Cox regression was used for the survival analysis.


Sixty-seven patients (43 men, 24 women), median age 60 years (range 29–77), median Ki-67 10% (range 1–30) were included. TGR before baseline (n = 57) (TGR0) was mean (s.d.) 6.0%/month (s.d. = 8.7). TGR at 4.5 months (n = 56) (TGR4) from baseline was −3.4 (s.d. = 4.2) %/month. TGR at 9.9 months (n = 57) (TGR10) from baseline was −3.0 (s.d. = 2.9) %/month. TGR4 and TGR10 were lower than TGR0 (TGR4 vs TGR0, P < 0.001 and TGR10 vs TGR0, P < 0.001). In the survival analysis, patients with TGR10 ≥ 0.5%/month (vs <0.5%/month) had shorter PFS (median = 16.0 months vs 31.5 months, hazard ratio 2.82; 95% CI 1.05–7.57, P = 0.040).


TGR in PanNET patients decreases considerably during PRRT with 177Lu-DOTATATE. TGR may be useful as a biomarker to identify patients with the shortest PFS.

Open access

Carina Hasenoehrl, Gert Schwach, Nassim Ghaffari-Tabrizi-Wizsy, Robert Fuchs, Nadine Kretschmer, Rudolf Bauer, and Roswitha Pfragner

New treatment options are needed for medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), a highly metastasizing neuroendocrine tumor that is resistant to standard radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We show that the following shikonin derivatives inhibit cell proliferation and cell viability of the MTC cell line TT: acetylshikonin, β,β-dimethylacrylshikonin, shikonin and a petroleum ether extract of the roots of Onosma paniculata containing several shikonin derivatives. The unsubstituted shikonin derivative was found to be the most effective compound with an IC50 of 1.1 µM. The cell viability of normal human skin fibroblasts, however, was not affected by the tested substances, indicating that shikonin derivatives might be selectively toxic for cancer cells. We further report that migration and invasion of TT cells were inhibited at non-toxic concentrations. Finally, shikonin was tested in vivo using the chick chorioallantoic membrane assay, where it significantly reduced tumor growth by inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis. In summary, our results suggest that shikonin derivatives have the potential for the treatment of medullary thyroid carcinomas.

Open access

Kylie D Rock, Brian Horman, Allison L Phillips, Susan L McRitchie, Scott Watson, Jocelin Deese-Spruill, Dereje Jima, Susan Sumner, Heather M Stapleton, and Heather B Patisaul

Firemaster 550 (FM 550) is a flame retardant (FR) mixture that has become one of the most commonly used FRs in foam-based furniture and baby products. Human exposure to this commercial mixture, composed of brominated and organophosphate components, is widespread. We have repeatedly shown that developmental exposure can lead to sex-specific behavioral effects in rats. Accruing evidence of endocrine disruption and potential neurotoxicity has raised concerns regarding the neurodevelopmental effects of FM 550 exposure, but the specific mechanisms of action remains unclear. Additionally, we observed significant, and in some cases sex-specific, accumulation of FM 550 in placental tissue following gestational exposure. Because the placenta is an important source of hormones and neurotransmitters for the developing brain, it may be a critical target of toxicity to consider in the context of developmental neurotoxicity. Using a mixture of targeted and exploratory approaches, the goal of the present study was to identify possible mechanisms of action in the developing forebrain and placenta. Wistar rat dams were orally exposed to FM 550 (0, 300 or 1000 µg/day) for 10 days during gestation and placenta and fetal forebrain tissue collected for analysis. In placenta, evidence of endocrine, inflammatory and neurotransmitter signaling pathway disruption was identified. Notably, 5-HT turnover was reduced in placental tissue and fetal forebrains indicating that 5-HT signaling between the placenta and the embryonic brain may be disrupted. These findings demonstrate that environmental contaminants, like FM 550, have the potential to impact the developing brain by disrupting normal placental functions.

Open access

Erik Rösner, Daniel Kaemmerer, Elisa Neubauer, Jörg Sänger, and Amelie Lupp

Programmed death protein 1 (PD-1) and its ligand, PD-L1, have emerged as promising therapeutic targets for many types of cancer that overexpress PD-L1. However, data on PD-L1 expression levels in bronchopulmonary neuroendocrine neoplasms (BP-NEN) are limited and contradictory. In the present study, a total of 298 archived, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded BP-NEN samples from 97 patients diagnosed with typical carcinoid (TC), atypical carcinoid (AC), small cell lung cancer (SCLC), or large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of the lung (LCNEC) were evaluated for PD-L1 expression by immunohistochemistry using the highly sensitive monoclonal anti-PD-L1 antibody 73-10. PD-L1 expression levels were semiquantitatively estimated by tumour grading. Of the 298 BP-NEN samples, 85% were positive for PD-L1 expression. PD-L1 immunostaining predominantly localized to the plasma membrane of both tumour cells and tumour-infiltrating immune cells. SCLC and LCNEC exhibited significantly higher PD-L1 expression levels than TC or AC. PD-L1 expression levels were also higher in patients with lymph node or distant metastases, in patients who smoked, and in patients who died during the follow-up period. Moreover, PD-L1 expression levels correlated positively with tumour grading, Ki-67 index and the expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and negatively with the levels of somatostatin receptor 1 and chromogranin A. High tumour PD-L1 levels were associated with poor patient outcomes. In conclusion, PD-L1 expression is common in BP-NEN, increases with malignancy, and is associated with poor prognosis. Therefore, targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 axis could be a promising strategy for treating BP-NEN. PD-L1 may also represent a useful prognostic biomarker for this tumour entity.

Open access

K G Samsom, L M van Veenendaal, G D Valk, M R Vriens, M E T Tesselaar, and J G van den Berg


Small-intestinal neuroendocrine tumours (SI-NETs) represent a heterogeneous group of rare tumours. In recent years, basic research in SI-NETs has attempted to unravel the molecular events underlying SI-NET tumorigenesis.


We aim to provide an overview of the current literature regarding prognostic and predictive molecular factors in patients with SI-NETs.


A PubMed search was conducted on (epi)genetic prognostic factors in SI-NETs from 2000 until 2019.


The search yielded 1522 articles of which 20 reviews and 35 original studies were selected for further evaluation. SI-NETs are mutationally quiet tumours with a different genetic make-up compared to pancreatic NETs. Loss of heterozygosity at chromosome 18 is the most frequent genomic aberration (44–100%) followed by mutations of CDKN1B in 8%. Prognostic analyses were performed in 16 studies, of which 8 found a significant (epi)genetic association for survival or progression. Loss of heterozygosity at chromosome 18, gains of chromosome 4, 5, 7, 14 and 20p, copy gain of the SRC gene and low expression of RASSF1A and P16 were associated with poorer survival. In comparison with genetic mutations, epigenetic alterations are significantly more common in SI-NETs and may represent more promising targets in the treatment of SI-NETs.


SI-NETs are mutationally silent tumours. No biomarkers have been identified yet that can easily be adopted into current clinical decision making. SI-NETs may represent a heterogeneous disease and larger international studies are warranted to translate molecular findings into precision oncology.

Open access

Qi Zhang, Hongshan Wang, Yanhong Xie, Suming Huang, Ke Chen, Botian Ye, Yupeng Yang, Jie Sun, Hongyong He, Fenglin Liu, Zhenbin Shen, Weidong Chen, Kuntang Shen, Yuan Ji, and Yihong Sun

A new subcategory, grade 3 neuroendocrine tumors, is incorporated into the grading system of pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms in the 2017 WHO classification in order to differentiate grade 3 neuroendocrine tumors from neuroendocrine carcinomas. The 2019 WHO classification extends the concept of grade 3 neuroendocrine tumors to gastrointestinal high-grade neuroendocrine neoplasms. However, there is still limited study focusing on the gastric grade 3 neuroendocrine tumors and gastric neuroendocrine carcinomas. We retrospectively enrolled 151 gastric high-grade neuroendocrine neoplasms patients, who underwent radical resection from January 2007 to December 2015. Clinicopathologic and prognostic features were studied. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database was used to verify the prognostic determinants found in the Zhongshan cohort. Neuroendocrine carcinomas showed a higher Ki67 index and higher mitotic count than grade 3 neuroendocrine tumors. We identified 109 (72.2%) patients with neuroendocrine carcinomas, 12 (7.9%) patients with grade 3 neuroendocrine tumors, and 30 (19.9%) patients with mixed neuroendocrine-non-neuroendocrine neoplasms. Although neuroendocrine carcinomas demonstrated higher Ki67 index (P = 0.004) and mitoses (P = 0.001) than grade 3 neuroendocrine tumors, their prognosis after radical resection did not demonstrate significant differences (P = 0.709). Tumor size, perineural invasion, and TNM stage were independent prognostic factors of gastric high-grade neuroendocrine neoplasms.

Open access

V G Pluimakers, M van Waas, C W N Looman, M P de Maat, R de Jonge, P Delhanty, M Huisman, F U S Mattace-Raso, M M van den Heuvel-Eibrink, and S J C M M Neggers


Augmented survival of childhood nephroblastoma and neuroblastoma has increased long-term side effects such as metabolic syndrome (MetS). Risk stratification is difficult after abdominal radiation because waist circumference underestimates adiposity. We aimed to develop a strategy for determining MetS in irradiated survivors using an integrated biomarker profile and vascular ultrasonography.


The NCEP-ATPIII MetS-components, 14 additional serum biomarkers and 9 vascular measurements were assessed in a single-centre cohort of childhood nephroblastoma (n = 67) and neuroblastoma (n = 36) survivors and controls (n = 61). Multivariable regression models were used to study treatment effects. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to study all biomarkers in a combined analysis, to identify patterns and correlations.


After 27.5 years of follow-up, MetS occurred more often in survivors (14%) than controls (3%). Abdominal radiotherapy and nephrectomy, to a lesser extent, were associated with MetS and separate components and with several biomarker abnormalities. PCA of biomarkers revealed a pattern on PC1 from favourable lipid markers (HDL-cholesterol, adiponectin) towards unfavourable markers (triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, apoB, uric acid). Abdominal radiotherapy was associated with the unfavourable biomarker profile (β = 1.45, P = 0.001). Vascular measurements were not of added diagnostic value.


Long-term childhood nephro- and neuroblastoma survivors frequently develop MetS. Additional assessment of biomarkers identified in PCA – adiponectin, LDL, apoB, and uric acid – may be used especially in abdominally irradiated survivors, to classify MetS as alternative for waist circumference. Vascular ultrasonography was not of added value.

Open access

Filippo Ceccato, Diego Cecchin, Michele Gregianin, Giacomo Ricci, Cristina Campi, Filippo Crimì, Marta Bergamo, Annibale Versari, Carmelo Lacognata, Federico Rea, Mattia Barbot, and Carla Scaroni

Introduction and aim

Ectopic ACTH secretion (EAS) is mostly secondary to thoracic/abdominal neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) or small cell-lung carcinoma (SCLC). We studied the diagnostic accuracy of CT with 68Ga-Dota derivatives (68Ga-SSTR) PET in localizing ACTH-secreting tumor in patients with EAS.

Materials and methods

68Ga-SSTR-PET/CT was performed and compared with the nearest enhanced CT in 18 cases (16 primary and 2 recurrent neoplasms). Unspecific, indeterminate and false-positive uptakes were assessed using conventional imaging, follow-up or histology.


We diagnosed 13 thoracic (9 primary and 2 recurrent bronchial carcinoids, 2 SCLCs) and 1 abdominal (pancreatic NET) tumors. Eight ACTH-secreting tumors were promptly identified at EAS diagnosis (’overt’, four pulmonary carcinoids with two recurrences and two SCLC); six EAS have been discovered during the subsequent follow-up (’covert’, five bronchial carcinoids and one pancreatic NET). At the time of EAS diagnosis, imaging was able to correctly detect the ACTH-secreting tumour in 8/18 cases (6 new diagnosis and 2 recurrences). During the follow-up, six out of initially ten ‘occult’ cases became ‘covert’. At last available follow-up, CT and 68Ga-SSTR-PET/CT were able to diagnose 11/18 and 12/18 ACTH-secreting tumours, respectively (11/14 and 12/14 considering only overt and covert cases, respectively). Four cases have never been localized by conventional or nuclear imaging (’occult EAS’), despite an average follow-up of 5 years.


The 68Ga-SSTR-PET/CT is useful in localizing EAS, especially to enhance positive prediction of the suggestive CT lesions and to detect occult neoplasms.