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Open access

M S Elston, V B Crawford, M Swarbrick, M S Dray, M Head, and J V Conaglen

Cushing’s syndrome (CS) due to ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is associated with a variety of tumours most of which arise in the thorax or abdomen. Prostate carcinoma is a rare but important cause of rapidly progressive CS. To report a case of severe CS due to ACTH production from prostate neuroendocrine carcinoma and summarise previous published cases. A 71-year-old male presented with profound hypokalaemia, oedema and new onset hypertension. The patient reported two weeks of weight gain, muscle weakness, labile mood and insomnia. CS due to ectopic ACTH production was confirmed with failure to suppress cortisol levels following low- and high-dose dexamethasone suppression tests in the presence of a markedly elevated ACTH and a normal pituitary MRI. Computed tomography demonstrated an enlarged prostate with features of malignancy, confirmed by MRI. Subsequent prostatic biopsy confirmed neuroendocrine carcinoma of small cell type and conventional adenocarcinoma of the prostate. Adrenal steroidogenesis blockade was commenced using ketoconazole and metyrapone. Complete biochemical control of CS and evidence of disease regression on imaging occurred after four cycles of chemotherapy with carboplatin and etoposide. By the sixth cycle, the patient demonstrated radiological progression followed by recurrence of CS and died nine months after initial presentation. Prostate neuroendocrine carcinoma is a rare cause of CS that can be rapidly fatal, and early aggressive treatment of the CS is important. In CS where the cause of EAS is unable to be identified, a pelvic source should be considered and imaging of the pelvis carefully reviewed.

Open access

Rajae Talbi and Victor M Navarro

Kiss1 neurons are essential regulators of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal (HPG) axis by regulating gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) release. Compelling evidence suggests that Kiss1 neurons of the arcuate nucleus (Kiss1ARC), recently identified as the hypothalamic GnRH pulse generator driving fertility, also participate in the regulation of metabolism through kisspeptinergic and glutamatergic interactions with, at least, proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and agouti-related peptide (AgRP)/neuropeptide Y (NPY) neurons, located in close apposition with Kiss1ARC. This review offers a comprehensive overview of the recent developments, mainly derived from animal models, on the role of Kiss1 neurons in the regulation of energy balance, including food intake, energy expenditure and the influence of circadian rhythms on this role. Furthermore, the possible neuroendocrine pathways underlying this effect, and the existing controversies related to the anorexigenic action of kisspeptin in the different experimental models, are also discussed.

Open access

Ananda A Santana-Ribeiro, Giulliani A Moreira-Brasileiro, Manuel H Aguiar-Oliveira, Roberto Salvatori, Vitor O Carvalho, Claudia K Alvim-Pereira, Carlos R Araújo-Daniel, Júlia G Reis-Costa, Alana L Andrade-Guimarães, Alécia A Oliveira-Santos, Edgar R Vieira, and Miburge B Gois-Junior

Objectives

Walking and postural balance are extremely important to obtain food and to work. Both are critical for quality of life and ability to survive. While walking reflects musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems, postural balance depends on body size, muscle tone, visual, vestibular and nervous systems. Since GH and IGF-I act on all these systems, we decided to study those parameters in a cohort of individuals with severe short stature due to untreated isolated GH deficiency (IGHD) caused by a mutation in the GHRH receptor gene. These IGHD subjects, despite reduction in muscle mass, are very active and have normal longevity.

Methods

In a cross-sectional study, we assessed walking (by a 6-min walk test), postural balance (by force platform) and fall risk (by the 'Timed Up and Go' test) in 31 IGHD and 40 matched health controls.

Results

The percentage of the walked distance measured in relation to the predicted one was similar in groups, but higher in IGHD, when corrected by the leg length. Absolute postural balance data showed similar velocity of unipodal support in the two groups, and better values, with open and closed eyes and unipodal support, in IGHD, but these differences became non-significant when corrected for height and lower-limb length. The time in 'Timed Up and Go' test was higher in IGHD cohort, but still below the cut-off value for fall risk.

Conclusion

IGHD subjects exhibit satisfactory walking and postural balance, without increase in fall risk.

Open access

Joana Simões-Pereira, Daniel Macedo, and Maria João Bugalho

Introduction

Metastases to central nervous system (M1-CNS) are rarely reported in thyroid cancer (TC) patients. We aimed to characterize patients with M1-CNS from TC followed in our department.

Methods

Review of the medical records of 27 patients with TC-related M1-CNS.

Results

Mean age at TC diagnosis was 56.9 ± 19.1 years. Papillary TC (55.6%) was the commonest histological type, followed by poorly differentiated (18.5%), medullary (11.1%), follicular (7.4%) and Hürthle cell (7.4%) carcinomas. Angioinvasion and extrathyroidal extension were observed in a high number of patients. At M1-CNS diagnosis, other distant metastases were already present in 77.8% of the patients. Treatment directed to M1-CNS was offered to 20 (74%) patients: 1 was submitted to surgery, 18 to radiotherapy (either whole-brain radiotherapy or stereotaxic radiosurgery or both) and 4 to surgery and radiotherapy. Four patients received cytotoxic chemotherapy and one was submitted to 131I. Median survival since M1-CNS detection was 5.0 months. The only factor associated with better survival was surgery to brain metastases (P = 0.012).

Conclusions

The management of these patients is very challenging given the inexistence of effective treatments, except for brain surgery in selected cases.

Open access

Ailsa Maria Main, Maria Rossing, Line Borgwardt, Birgitte Grønkær Toft, Åse Krogh Rasmussen, and Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen

Phaeochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) are tumours of the adrenal medulla and extra-adrenal sympathetic nervous system which often secrete catecholamines. Variants of the SDHX (SDHA, -AF2, -B, -C, -D) genes are a frequent cause of familial PPGLs. In this study from a single tertiary centre, we aimed to characterise the genotype–phenotype associations in patients diagnosed with germline variants in SDHX genes. We also assessed whether systematic screening of family members resulted in earlier detection of tumours. The study cohort comprised all individuals (n = 59) diagnosed with a rare variant in SDHX during a 13-year period. Patient- and pathology records were checked for clinical characteristics and histopathological findings. We found distinct differences in the clinical and histopathological characteristics between genetic variants in SDHB. We identified two SDHB variants with distinct phenotypical patterns. Family screening for SDHB variants resulted in earlier detection of tumours in two families. Patients with SDHA, SDHC and SDHD variants also had malignant phenotypes, underlining the necessity for a broad genetic screening of the proband. Our study corroborates previous findings of poor prognostic markers and found that the genetic variants and clinical phenotype are linked and, therefore, useful in the decision of clinical follow-up. Regular tumour screening of carriers of pathogenic variants may lead to an earlier diagnosis and expected better prognosis. The development of a combined algorithm with clinical, genetic, morphological, and biochemical factors may be the future for improved clinical risk stratification, forming a basis for larger multi-centre follow up studies.

Open access

M L M Barreto-Chaves, N Senger, M R Fevereiro, A C Parletta, and A P C Takano

The cardiac growth process (hypertrophy) is a crucial phenomenon conserved across a wide array of species and is critically involved in the maintenance of cardiac homeostasis. This process enables an organism to adapt to changes in systemic demand and occurs due to a plethora of responses, depending on the type of signal or stimuli received. The growth of cardiac muscle cells in response to environmental conditions depends on the type, strength and duration of stimuli, and results in adaptive physiological responses or non-adaptive pathological responses. Thyroid hormones (TH) have a direct effect on the heart and induce a cardiac hypertrophy phenotype, which may evolve to heart failure. In this review, we summarize the literature on TH function in the heart by presenting results from experimental studies. We discuss the mechanistic aspects of TH associated with cardiac myocyte hypertrophy, increased cardiac myocyte contractility and electrical remodeling, as well as the associated signaling pathways. In addition to classical crosstalk with the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), emerging work pointing to the new endocrine interaction between TH and the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is also explored. Given the inflammatory potential of the angiotensin II peptide, this new interaction may open the door for new therapeutic approaches which target the key mechanisms responsible for TH-induced cardiac hypertrophy.

Open access

Roberto Cosimo Melcangi, Livio Casarini, Marco Marino, Daniele Santi, Samantha Sperduti, Silvia Giatti, Silvia Diviccaro, Maria Grimoldi, Donatella Caruso, Guido Cavaletti, and Manuela Simoni

Context

Post-finasteride syndrome (PFS) occurs in patients with androgenic alopecia after suspension of the finasteride treatment, leading to a large variety of persistent side effects. Despite the severity of the clinical picture, the mechanism underlying the PFS symptoms onset and persistence is still unclear.

Objective

To study whether epigenetic modifications occur in PFS patients.

Methods

Retrospective analysis of a multicentric, prospective, longitudinal, case–control clinical trial, enrolling 16 PFS patients, compared to 20 age-matched healthy men. Main outcomes were methylation pattern of SRD5A1 and SRD5A2 promoters and concentration of 11 neuroactive steroids, measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples.

Results

SRD5A1 and SRD5A2 methylation analysis was performed in all blood samples (n = 16 PFS patients and n = 20 controls), in 16 CSF samples from PFS patients and in 13 CSF samples from controls. The SRD5A2 promoter was more frequently methylated in CSF of PFS patients compared to controls (56.3 vs 7.7%). No promoter methylation was detected in blood samples in both groups. No methylation occurred in the SRD5A1 promoter of both groups. Unmethylated controls compared to unmethylated SRD5A2 patients showed higher pregnenolone, dihydrotestosterone and dihydroprogesterone, together with lower testosterone CSF levels. Andrological and neurological assessments did not differ between methylated and unmethylated subjects.

Conclusions

For the first time, we demonstrate a tissue-specific methylation pattern of SRD5A2 promoter in PFS patients. Although we cannot conclude whether this pattern is prenatally established or induced by finasteride treatment, it could represent an important mechanism of neuroactive steroid levels and behavioural disturbances previously described in PFS.

Open access

R C S van Adrichem, L J Hofland, R A Feelders, M C De Martino, P M van Koetsveld, C H J van Eijck, R R de Krijger, D M Sprij-Mooij, J A M J L Janssen, and W W de Herder

Chromogranin A (CgA) and the Ki-67 proliferation index are considered as important biochemical and pathological markers for clinical behaviour of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP NETs), respectively. The IGF system has been suggested as an important regulator of GEP NET proliferation and differentiation. A possible relationship between serum CgA (sCgA), Ki-67 proliferation index, and expression of IGF-related genes in patients with GEP NETs has not been demonstrated yet. This study investigates the relationship between sCgA, the Ki-67 proliferation index, and the expression of IGF-related genes in GEP NET tissues and their relation with 5-year survival. Tumor and blood samples from 22 GEP NET patients were studied. Tumoral mRNA expression of IGF-related genes (IGFs: IGF1, IGF2; IGF receptors: IGF1R, IGF2R; insulin receptors: subtype A (IR-A) and B (IR-B); IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs): IGFBP1, IGFBP2, IGFBP3, and IGFBP6) was measured using quantitative RT-PCR. Ki-67 proliferation index was determined using immunohistochemistry. sCgA was measured with ELISA. Five-year survival in patients with nonelevated sCgA (n=11) was 91 vs 46% in patients with elevated sCgA (n=11) (P=0.006). IR-A mRNA expression was significantly higher in tumors obtained from patients with elevated sCgA than in those from patients with nonelevated sCgA (6.42±2.08 vs 2.60±0.40; P=0.04). This data suggests that sCgA correlates well with 5-year survival of GEP NET patients, and that IR-A mRNA expression correlates well with tumor mass in GEP NET patients.

Open access

Giulia Bresciani, Angeliki Ditsiou, Chiara Cilibrasi, Viviana Vella, Federico Rea, Marco Schiavon, Narciso Giorgio Cavallesco, Georgios Giamas, Maria Chiara Zatelli, and Teresa Gagliano

Broncho-pulmonary neuroendocrine neoplasms (BP-NENs) are neoplasms orphan of an efficient therapy. Available medical treatments derived from clinical trials are not specific for the management of this malignancy. Sunitinib is a multi-receptor tyrosine-kinases (RTKs) inhibitor that has already shown its efficacy in NENs, but there are no available data about its action in BP-NENs. Therefore, our aim was to understand the effects of RTKs inhibition promoted by sunitinib in order to evaluate new putative targets useful in malignancy treatment. Since our results underlined a role for EGFR and IGF1R in modulating sunitinib antiproliferative action, we investigated the effects of erlotinib, an EGFR inhibitor, and linsitinib, an IGF1R inhibitor, in order to understand their function in regulating cells behaviour. Cell viability and caspase activation were evaluated on two immortalised human BP-NEN cell lines and primary cultures. Our results showed that after treatment with sunitinib and/or IGF1, EGF and VEGF, the antiproliferative effect of sunitinib was counteracted by EGF and IGF1 but not by VEGF. Therefore, we evaluated with AlphaScreen technology the phosphorylated EGFR and IGF1R levels in primary cultures treated with sunitinib and/or EGF and IGF1. Results showed a decrease of p-IGF1R after treatment with sunitinib and an increase after co-treatment with IGF1. Then, we assessed cell viability and caspase activation on BP-NEN cell lines after treatment with linsitinib and/or erlotinib. Results demonstrate that these two agents have a stronger antiproliferative effect compared to sunitinib. In conclusion, our results suggest that IGF1R and EGF1R could represent putative molecular targets in BP-NENs treatment.

Open access

Ashley K Clift, Omar Faiz, Robert Goldin, John Martin, Harpreet Wasan, Marc-Olaf Liedke, Erik Schloericke, Anna Malczewska, Guido Rindi, Mark Kidd, Irvin M Modlin, and Andrea Frilling

Neuroendocrine tumours (NET) are clinically challenging due to their unpredictable behaviour. Nomograms, grading and staging systems are predictive tools with multiple roles in clinical practice, including patient prognostication. The NET nomogram allocates scores for various clinicopathological parameters, calculating percentage estimates for 5- and 10-year disease-specific survival of patients with small bowel (SB) NET. We evaluated the clinical utility of three prognostic systems in 70 SB NET patients: the NET nomogram, the World Health Organisation (WHO)/European Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (ENETS) grading system and the American Joint Commission on Cancer (AJCC)/Union Internationale Contre le Cancer (UICC) TNM staging method. Using Kaplan–Meier methodology, neither the WHO/ENETS grade (P = 0.6) nor the AJCC/UICC stage (P = 0.276) systems demonstrated significant differences in patient survival in the cohort. The NET nomogram was well calibrated to our data set, displaying favourable prediction accuracy. Harrel’s C-index for the nomogram (a measure of predictive power) was 0.65, suggesting good prediction ability. On Kaplan–Meier analyses, there were significant differences in patient survival when stratified into nomogram score-based risk groups: low-, medium- and high-risk tumours were associated with median estimated survivals of 156, 129 and 112 months, respectively (P = 0.031). Our data suggest that a multivariable analysis-based NET nomogram may be clinically useful for patient survival prediction. This study identifies the limitations of the NET nomogram and the imperfections of other currently used single or binary parameter methodologies for assessing neuroendocrine disease prognosis. The future addition of other variables to the NET nomogram will likely amplify the accuracy of this personalised tool.