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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

Background

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.

Aim

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

Method

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

Results

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.

Conclusion

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

Hanbaro Kim, Ki Byung Song, Dae Wook Hwang, Jae Hoon Lee, Shadi Alshammary and Song Cheol Kim

This study aimed to evaluate the evolving trends in clinicopathological features of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and to analyze the predictors of recurrence after curative resection. Data collected retrospectively from a single center between January 1990 and December 2017 were analyzed. Patients were categorized chronologically into three groups for evolving time-trend analysis. Overall, 542 patients (300 female, 55.4%) underwent surgical resection for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, including 435 (80.3%) with non-functional tumors. Time-trend analysis revealed that the surgically resected pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor number increased consistently; however, the incidental non-functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor number also increased over time (P < 0.001). The 5- and 10-year disease-free survival rates were 86.4 and 81.3%, respectively. The overall recurrence rate was 13.7%, and the most common site of recurrence was the liver. The median time to recurrence after primary surgery was 19.0 (range 0.8–236.3) months, and the median survival time after recurrence was 22.6 (range 0.4–126.9) months. On multivariate analysis, grade G3 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (hazard ratio 4.51; P < 0.001), lymph node metastasis (hazard ratio 2.46; P = 0.009), lymphovascular invasion (hazard ratio 3.62; P = 0.004), perineural invasion (hazard ratio 2.61; P = 0.004) and resection margin (hazard ratio 4.20; P = 0.003) were independent prognostic factors of disease-free survival. The surgically resected pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor number increased over time mainly because of an increase in incidentally discovered non-functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Grade G3 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, lymph node metastasis, lymphovascular invasion, perineural invasion and a positive resection margin were significant predictors of worse disease-free survival in patients with surgically resected pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Open access

Mauricio Alvarez, Oswaldo Rincón Sierra, Ginna Saavedra and Sergio Moreno

Objective

Vitamin B12 deficiency resulting from metformin use has been demonstrated in multiple studies. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency in patients with chronic metformin use and the relationship between vitamin B12 deficiency and diabetic neuropathy.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted with 162 patients. Vitamin B12 levels were measured by chemiluminescence immunoassay. Diabetic neuropathy was evaluated by patient record, nerve conduction and Michigan test for the diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy. Additional data, including demographic characteristics were collected. A linear regression model was used to evaluate variables that correlated with vitamin B12 levels and diabetic neuropathy.

Results

Low vitamin B12 levels were found in 7.3% (95% CI: 4.0–12%) of patients. In those with diabetic neuropathy, altered (low and borderline) vitamin B12 level was 64% (95% CI: 47–78%) compared to 17% (95% CI: 10–26%) in patients without diabetic neuropathy (coefficient: −110.8; CI 95%: −165.8, −59.7). Those taking a higher metformin dose had lower levels of vitamin B12 (coefficient: −0.061; CI 95%: −0.09, −0.024). In addition, female patients had higher levels of vitamin B12 compared to men (coefficient: 49.1; CI 95%: 2.3–95).

Conclusions

Vitamin B12 deficiency is highly prevalent, especially in patients with diabetic neuropathy. In this study an inverse correlation was found between diabetic neuropathy and the plasma level of vitamin B12. Higher doses of metformin and male sex were factors related to lower levels of vitamin B12.

Open access

Simon Schimmack, Yongchao Yang, Klaus Felix, Markus Herbst, Yixiong Li, Miriam Schenk, Frank Bergmann, Thilo Hackert and Oliver Strobel

Objective

Elevated pre-operative C-reactive protein (CRP) serum values have been reported to be associated with poor overall survival for patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (pNEN). The aim of this study was to identify mechanisms linking CRP to poor prognosis in pNEN.

Methods

The malignant properties of pNENs were investigated using the human pNEN cell-lines BON1 and QGP1 exposed to CRP or IL-6. Analyses were performed by ELISA, Western blot, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry as well as invasion and proliferation assays. To compare cytokine profiles and CRP levels, 76 serum samples of pNEN patients were analyzed using Luminex technology. In parallel, the expression of CRP and growth signaling pathway proteins was assessed on cell lines and paraffin-embedded primary pNEN.

Results

In BON1 and QGP1 cells, inflammation (exposure to IL-6) significantly upregulated CRP expression and secretion as well as migratory properties. CRP stimulation of BON1 cells increased IL-6 secretion and invasion. This was accompanied by activation/phosphorylation of the ERK, AKT and/or STAT3 pathways. Although known CRP receptors – CD16, CD32 and CD64 – were not detected on BON1 cells, CRP uptake of pNEN cells was shown after CRP exposure. In patients, increased pre-operative CRP levels (≥5 mg/L) were associated with significantly higher serum levels of IL-6 and G-CSF, as well as with an increased CRP expression and ERK/AKT/STAT3 phosphorylation in pNEN tissue.

Conclusion

The malignant properties of pNEN cells can be stimulated by CRP and IL-6 promoting ERK/AKT/STAT pathways activation as well as invasion, thus linking systemic inflammation and poor prognosis.

Open access

Bilal B Mughal, Jean-Baptiste Fini and Barbara A Demeneix

This review covers recent findings on the main categories of thyroid hormone–disrupting chemicals and their effects on brain development. We draw mostly on epidemiological and experimental data published in the last decade. For each chemical class considered, we deal with not only the thyroid hormone–disrupting effects but also briefly mention the main mechanisms by which the same chemicals could modify estrogen and/or androgen signalling, thereby exacerbating adverse effects on endocrine-dependent developmental programmes. Further, we emphasize recent data showing how maternal thyroid hormone signalling during early pregnancy affects not only offspring IQ, but also neurodevelopmental disease risk. These recent findings add to established knowledge on the crucial importance of iodine and thyroid hormone for optimal brain development. We propose that prenatal exposure to mixtures of thyroid hormone–disrupting chemicals provides a plausible biological mechanism contributing to current increases in the incidence of neurodevelopmental disease and IQ loss.

Open access

Maxime Duval, Kalyane Bach-Ngohou, Damien Masson, Camille Guimard, Philippe Le Conte and David Trewick

Objective

Severe hypocalcemia (Ca <1.9 mmol/L) is often considered an emergency because of a potential risk of cardiac arrest or seizures. However, there is little evidence to support this. The aim of our study was to assess whether severe hypocalcemia was associated with immediately life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias or neurological complications.

Methods

A retrospective observational study was carried out over a 2-year period in the Adult Emergency Department (ED) of Nantes University Hospital. All patients who had a protein-corrected calcium concentration measure were eligible for inclusion. Patients with multiple myeloma were excluded. The primary outcome was the number of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and/or neurological complications during the stay in the ED.

Results

A total of 41,823 patients had protein-corrected calcium (pcCa) concentrations measured, 155 had severe hypocalcemia, 22 were excluded because of myeloma leaving 133 for analysis. Median pcCa concentration was 1.73 mmol/L (1.57–1.84). Seventeen (12.8%) patients presented a life-threatening condition, 14 (10.5%) neurological and 3 (2.2%) cardiac during ED stay. However, these complications could be explained by the presence of underlying co-morbidities and or electrolyte disturbances other than hypocalcemia. Overall, 24 (18%) patients died in hospital. Vitamin D deficiency, chronic kidney disease and hypoparathyroidism were the most frequently found causes of hypocalcemia.

Conclusion

Thirteen percent of patients with severe hypocalcemia presented a life-threatening cardiac or neurological complication on the ED. However, a perfectly valid alternative cause could account for these complications. Further research is warranted to define the precise role of hypocalcemia.

Open access

G Giuffrida, F Ferraù, R Laudicella, O R Cotta, E Messina, F Granata, F F Angileri, A Vento, A Alibrandi, S Baldari and S Cannavò

In aggressive pituitary tumors (PT) showing local invasion or growth/recurrence despite multimodal conventional treatment, temozolomide (TMZ) is considered a further therapeutic option, while little data are available on peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). We analyzed PRRT effectiveness, safety and long-term outcome in three patients with aggressive PT, also reviewing the current literature. Patient #1 (F, giant prolactinoma) received five cycles (total dose 37 GBq) of 111In-DTPA-octreotide over 23 months, after unsuccessful surgery and long-term dopamine-agonist treatment. Patient #2 (M, giant prolactinoma) underwent two cycles (12.6 GBq) of 177Lu-DOTATOC after multiple surgeries, radiosurgery and TMZ. In patient #3 (F, non-functioning PT), five cycles (29.8 GBq) of 177Lu-DOTATOC followed five surgeries, radiotherapy and TMZ. Eleven more cases of PRRT-treated aggressive PT emerged from literature. Patient #1 showed tumor shrinkage and visual/neurological amelioration over 8-year follow-up, while the other PTs continued to grow causing blindness and neuro-cognitive disorders (patient #2) or monolateral amaurosis (patient #3). No adverse effects were reported. Including the patients from literature, 4/13 presented tumor shrinkage and clinical/biochemical improvement after PRRT. Response did not correlate with patients’ gender or age, neither with used radionuclide/peptide, but PRRT failure was significantly associated with previous TMZ treatment. Overall, adverse effects occurred only in two patients. PRRT was successful in 1/3 of patients with aggressive PT, and in 4/5 of those not previously treated with TMZ, representing a safe option after unsuccessful multimodal treatment. However, at present, considering the few data, PRRT should be considered only in an experimental setting.

Open access

Alberto Bongiovanni, Federica Recine, Flavia Foca, Valentina Fausti, Nada Riva, Greta Fabbri, Stefano Severi, Chiara Liverani, Alessandro De Vita, Chiara Spadazzi, Giacomo Miserocchi, Laura Mercatali, Dino Amadori and Toni Ibrahim

The incidence of neuroendocrine neoplasia (NEN) is higher in individuals ≥70 years of age (elderly) who are underrepresented in clinical trials because of comorbidities and low performance status. We retrospectively analyzed the outcome of elderly patients with metastatic NEN (mNEN). Comorbidities were summarized by Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI), Kaplan–Meier method was applied to estimate overall survival (OS) and Cox’s proportional hazard model was used to assess the impact of known prognostic factors. We retrieved data on 145 mNEN patients aged ≥70 years seen at our center from June 2007 to March 2016. Fifty-six (38.6%) were aged ≥75 years. ECOG PS was 0 in 45.7% of cases and CCI was 0 in 41.0% and 1 in 37.4%. A total of 75.4% of patients had grade (G)1/G2 NEN and 24.6%, G3. Octreoscan/Gallium PET/CT and FDG-PET/CT were positive in 94.2% and 70.3% of cases, respectively. Median follow-up was 72.3 (53.2–85.1) months. Seventy-nine patients received first-line somatostatin analogs (SSA), 23 peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) and 36 chemotherapy (CHT). Seven did not undergo first-line therapy and 102 received more than one line. Median overall survival (mOS) was 5.1 years (95% CI: 3.4–6.6). No differences in mOS were seen according to CCI. First-line PRRT patients had a mOS of 6.5 years (95% CI: 3.3–not reached (NR)), SSA 5.7 years (95% CI: 4.2–7) and CHT 5.9 years (95% CI: 0.4–NR). mOS in CHT-treated G3 patients was 1.5 years (1.0–2.5). ECOG PS and FDG PET/CT were identified as independent prognostic factors. Results suggest that the above treatments positively impacted OS in elderly mNEN patients, including those aged ≥75 years.

Open access

Xu Han, Xuefeng Xu, Hongyun Ma, Yuan Ji, Dansong Wang, Tiantao Kuang, Wenchuan Wu, Bin Song, Gang Li, Gang Jin and Wenhui Lou

Purpose

Emerging evidence suggests G3 pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (pNENs) present heterogeneous morphology and biology. The 2017 WHO classification has introduced a new category of well-differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (WD-pNETs) G3, compared with poorly differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine carcinomas (PD-pNECs) G3. We aim to analysis the demographics and outcomes of patients with resectable 2017 WHO G3 pNENs to facilitate the distinction between two entities.

Methods

The multi-institutional retrospective cohort involving 57 surgically treated patients affected by 2017 WHO G3 pNENs were morphologically identified and clinically analyzed. Patients having WD-pNETs G3 and those having PD-pNECs G3 were compared.

Results

Thirty patients had WD-pNETs and 27 patients had PD-pNECs. The distributions of Ki-67 and mitotic count in patients with PD-pNECs or WD-pNETs showed remarkable disparities. ROC indicated cut-off value of Ki-67 was 45. PD-pNECs were more common in patients with elevated Ki-67 and mitotic count, advanced AJCC TNM stage, vascular invasion, regional lymph-node metastases, elevated NSE and decreased CgA levels compared with WD-pNETs (P < 0.05). The association between 2017 WHO G3 grade and TTR was statistically significant (P < 0.05). Univariate analysis indicated OS rates were associated with morphologic differentiation (WD-pNETs vs PD-pNECs), Ki-67, TNM staging, synchronous distant metastases, initial treatments, vascular invasion, regional lymph nodes metastases, mitotic count and age (P < 0.05). Multivariate analyses illustrated Ki-67, differentiation, TNM staging and vascular invasion were independent predictors (P < 0.05).

Conclusions

PD-pNECs G3 presented malignant biological behavior and dismal outcome compared with WD-pNETs G3. These findings challenge 2010 WHO classification and suggest the categorization can be improved by refined tumor grading.

Open access

Arno Téblick, Lies Langouche and Greet Van den Berghe

Critical illness is hallmarked by major changes in all hypothalamic–pituitary–peripheral hormonal axes. Extensive animal and human studies have identified a biphasic pattern in circulating pituitary and peripheral hormone levels throughout critical illness by analogy with the fasting state. In the acute phase of critical illness, following a deleterious event, rapid neuroendocrine changes try to direct the human body toward a catabolic state to ensure provision of elementary energy sources, whereas costly anabolic processes are postponed. Thanks to new technologies and improvements in critical care, the majority of patients survive the acute insult and recover within a week. However, an important part of patients admitted to the ICU fail to recover sufficiently, and a prolonged phase of critical illness sets in. This prolonged phase of critical illness is characterized by a uniform suppression of the hypothalamic–pituitary–peripheral hormonal axes. Whereas the alterations in hormonal levels during the first hours and days after the onset of critical illness are evolutionary selected and are likely beneficial for survival, endocrine changes in prolonged critically ill patients could be harmful and may hamper recovery. Most studies investigating the substitution of peripheral hormones or strategies to overcome resistance to anabolic stimuli failed to show benefit for morbidity and mortality. Research on treatment with selected and combined hypothalamic hormones has shown promising results. Well-controlled RCTs to corroborate these findings are needed.