Expression of EGFR in Pituitary Corticotroph Adenomas and Its Relationship With Tumor Behavior.
ABSTRACT: Objective: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has been found to localize in several human neoplasms and has been shown to have a significant correlation with adenomaigenesis and patient prognosis. EGFR is also overexpressed in pituitary corticotroph adenomas. However, its clinical significance and relationship with tumor behavior, especially tumor recurrence status, remain obscure. The purpose of the present study was to identify the expression patterns of EGFR and its downstream signaling pathway molecules in pituitary corticotroph adenomas and to investigate the association of EGFR with clinicopathological characteristics and tumor recurrence. Methods: Fifty-two sporadic pituitary adenoma specimens and six normal pituitary glands were collected. The expression levels of EGFR and its downstream signaling molecules in each sample were evaluated and quantified using immunohistochemistry and Western blot. The relationships of EGFR expression with clinicopathological characteristics and tumor recurrence status were analyzed. Results: EGFR was overexpressed in 55.8% of the pituitary corticotroph adenomas and in 1 of 6 of the normal adenohypophysial tissues. The expression degree was significantly higher in pituitary corticotroph adenomas than in normal adenohypophysial tissues. In EGFR-overexpressing adenomas, the downstream pathway phosphorylated Erk (p-Erk) was also significantly activated. Moreover, the expression levels of EGFR were positively correlated with the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol levels but were not correlated with age, sex or symptom duration. The expression levels of EGFR, phosphorylated EGFR (p-EGFR) and p-Erk were significantly up-regulated in the recurrent adenoma group compared with those in the non-recurrent adenoma group (all p < 0.05). The expression levels of EGFR were strongly correlated with the recurrence-free interval (p = 0.005, CC = -0.31). Conclusion: The expression levels of EGFR and its downstream pathway components were significantly increased in pituitary corticotroph adenomas compared to the levels in normal adenohypophysial tissues. EGFR expression levels were positively associated with the ACTH and cortisol levels and with tumor recurrence status. Pituitary corticotroph adenomas with high EGFR expression levels were correlated with an increased recurrence rate and a decreased recurrence-free interval. EGFR could be used as a promising biomarker for predicting pituitary corticotroph tumor recurrence.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), expressed in adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenomas causing Cushing disease, regulates ACTH production and corticotroph proliferation. To elucidate the utility of EGFR as a therapeutic target for Cushing disease, we generated transgenic (Tg) mice with corticotroph-specific human EGFR expression (corti-EGFR-Tg) using a newly constructed corticotroph-specific promoter. Pituitary-specific EGFR expression was observed by 2.5 months, and aggressive ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas with features of Crooke's cells developed by 8 months with 65% penetrance observed. Features consistent with the Cushing phenotype included elevated plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels, increased body weight, glucose intolerance, and enlarged adrenal cortex. Gefitinib, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, suppressed tumor POMC expression and downstream EGFR tumor signaling, and ACTH and corticosterone levels were attenuated by 80% and 78%, respectively. Both E2F1 and phosphorylated Ser-337 E2F1 were increased in corti-EGFR-Tg mice and also colocalized with human POMC (hPOMC) in human pituitary corticotroph tumor samples. EGFR inhibition reversed E2F1 activity in vivo, whereas E2F1 inhibition suppressed POMC and ACTH in cultured human pituitary tumor cells. The corti-EGFR-Tg phenotype recapitulates ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas and Cushing disease, validating the relevance of EGFR to corticotroph tumorigenesis. E2F1 is identified as a promising corticotroph-specific target for ACTH-dependent Cushing disease.
Project description:Cushing disease is a condition in which the pituitary gland releases excessive adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) as a result of an adenoma arising from the ACTH-secreting cells in the anterior pituitary. ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas lead to hypercortisolemia and cause significant morbidity and mortality. Pituitary-directed medications are mostly ineffective, and new treatment options are needed. As these tumors express EGFR, we tested whether EGFR might provide a therapeutic target for Cushing disease. Here, we show that in surgically resected human and canine corticotroph cultured tumors, blocking EGFR suppressed expression of proopiomelanocortin (POMC), the ACTH precursor. In mouse corticotroph EGFR transfectants, ACTH secretion was enhanced, and EGF increased Pomc promoter activity, an effect that was dependent on MAPK. Blocking EGFR activity with gefitinib, an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, attenuated Pomc expression, inhibited corticotroph tumor cell proliferation, and induced apoptosis. As predominantly nuclear EGFR expression was observed in canine and human corticotroph tumors, we preferentially targeted EGFR to mouse corticotroph cell nuclei, which resulted in higher Pomc expression and ACTH secretion, both of which were inhibited by gefitinib. In athymic nude mice, EGFR overexpression enhanced the growth of explanted ACTH-secreting tumors and further elevated serum corticosterone levels. Gefitinib treatment decreased both tumor size and corticosterone levels; it also reversed signs of hypercortisolemia, including elevated glucose levels and excess omental fat. These results indicate that inhibiting EGFR signaling may be a novel strategy for treating Cushing disease.
Project description:Pituitary adenomas are classified into functioning and nonfunctioning (silent) tumors on the basis of hormone secretion. However, the mechanism of tumorigenesis and the cell of origin for pituitary adenoma subtypes remain to be elucidated. Employing a tamoxifen-inducible mouse model, we demonstrate that a novel postnatal Pax7(+) progenitor cell population in the pituitary gland gives rise to silent corticotroph macro-adenomas when the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor is conditionally deleted. While Pax transcriptional factors are critical for embryonic patterning as well as postnatal stem cell renewal for many organs, we have discovered that Pax7 marks a restricted cell population in the postnatal pituitary intermediate lobe. This Pax7(+) early progenitor cell population is overlapping but ontologically downstream of the Nestin(+) pituitary stem cell population, yet upstream of another newly discovered Myf6(+) late progenitor cell population. Interestingly, the Pax7(+) progenitor cell population is evolutionarily conserved in primates and humans, and Pax7 expression is maintained not only in murine tumors but also in human functioning and silent corticotropinomas. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that human silent corticotroph adenomas may in fact arise from a Pax7 lineage of the intermediate lobe, a region of the human pituitary bearing closer scientific interest as a reservoir of pituitary progenitor cells.
Project description:PURPOSE:miR-410-3p plays opposite roles in different cancers and may act as an oncomiR or tumor suppressor miR. The purpose of this study was to assess the role of miR-410-3p in somatotroph, gonadotroph, and corticotroph pituitary adenomas. METHODS:Tissue samples were obtained from 75 patients with pituitary adenoma. miR-410-3p expression was assessed using qRT-PCR performed on RNA isolated from fresh frozen samples. In vitro experiments were performed on cell lines derived from somatotroph (GH3), gonadotroph (RC-4B/C), and corticotroph (AtT-20) pituitary tumors. Cells were transfected with synthetic mimic of miR-410-3p or non-targeting scrambled-miR control. Subsequently, proliferation assays and transwell invasion assays were performed. The expression of cyclin D1, E1, and B1 in cells after transfection was determined using qRT-PCR. The activation of MAPK, PTEN/AKT and STAT3 signaling pathways were assessed using western blot. RESULTS:We have found that the level of expression of miR-410-3p differs in particular types of pituitary adenomas. miR-410-3p significantly upregulates proliferation and invasiveness of RC-4B/C and AtT-20 cells, while inhibiting GH3 cells. We observed that the levels of cyclin B1 upon transfection with miR-410-3p mimic were increased in RC-4B/C and AtT-20, yet decreased in GH3 cells. We have shown that miR-410-3p promoted the activation of MAPK, PTEN/AKT, and STAT3 signaling pathways in RC-4B/C and AtT-20 cells, but suppressed their activity in GH3 cells. CONCLUSIONS:miR-410-3p acts as an oncomiR in gonadotroph and corticotroph adenoma cells, while as a tumor suppressor miR in somatotroph adenoma cells.
Project description:CONTEXT:Silent pituitary adenomas are anterior pituitary tumors with hormone synthesis but without signs or symptoms of hormone hypersecretion. They have been increasingly recognized and represent challenging diagnostic issues. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION:A comprehensive literature search was performed using MEDLINE and EMBASE databases from January 2000 to March 2018 with the following key words: (i) pituitary adenoma/tumor and nonfunctioning; or (ii) pituitary adenoma/tumor and silent. All titles and abstracts of the retrieved articles were reviewed, and recent advances in the field of silent pituitary adenomas were summarized. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS:The clinical and biochemical picture of pituitary adenomas reflects a continuum between functional and silent adenomas. Although some adenomas are truly silent, others will show some evidence of biochemical hypersecretion or could have subtle clinical signs and, therefore, can be referred to as clinically silent or "whispering" adenomas. Silent tumors seem to be more aggressive than their secreting counterparts, with a greater recurrence rate. Transcription factors for pituitary cell lineages have been introduced into the 2017 World Health Organization guidelines: steroidogenic factor 1 staining for gonadotroph lineage; PIT1 (pituitary-specific positive transcription factor 1) for growth hormone, prolactin, and TSH lineage, and TPIT for the corticotroph lineage. Prospective studies applying these criteria will establish the value of the new classification. CONCLUSIONS:A concise review of the clinical and pathological aspects of silent pituitary adenomas was conducted in view of the new World Health Organization classification of pituitary adenomas. New classifications, novel prognostics markers, and emerging imaging and therapeutic approaches need to be evaluated to better serve this unique group of patients.
Project description:Cushing's disease is caused by pituitary corticotroph adenoma, and the pathogenesis of it has remained obscure. Here, we showed that cold inducible RNA binding protein (CIRP) was markedly elevated in corticotroph tumors. Forced overexpression of CIRP in murine AtT20 pituitary corticotroph cell line increased corticotroph precursor hormone proopiomelanocortin (POMC) transcription, ACTH secretion and cellular proliferation. In vivo, CIRP overexpression promotes murine corticotroph tumor growth and enhances ACTH production. Mechanistically, we show that CIRP could promote AtT20 cells proliferation by inducing cyclinD1 and decreasing p27 expression via Erk1/2 signaling pathway. Clinically, CIRP overexpression is significantly correlated with Cushing's disease recurrence. CIRP appears to play a critical tumorigenesis function in Cushing's disease and its expression might be a useful biomarker for tumor recurrence.
Project description:PDE4 cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases regulate cAMP abundance in cells and therefore regulate numerous processes, including cell growth and differentiation. The rat PDE4A5 isoform (human homolog PDE4A4) interacts with the AIP protein (also called XAP2 or ARA-9). Germline mutations in AIP occur in approximately 20% of patients with Familial Isolated Pituitary Adenoma (FIPA) and 20% of childhood-onset simplex somatotroph adenomas. We therefore examined the protein expression of PDE4A4 and the closely related isoform PDE4A8 in normal human pituitary tissue and in pituitary adenomas. PDE4A4 had low expression in normal pituitary but was significantly overexpressed in somatotroph, lactotroph, corticotroph and clinically nonfunctioning gonadotroph adenomas (P<0.0001 for all subtypes). Likewise, PDE4A8 was expressed in normal pituitary and was also significantly overexpressed in the adenoma subtypes (P<0.0001 for all). Among the different adenoma subtypes, corticotroph and lactotroph adenomas were the highest and lowest expressed for PDE4A4, respectively, whereas the opposite was observed for PDE4A8. Naturally occurring oncogenic variants in AIP were shown by a two-hybrid assay to disrupt the ability of AIP to interact with PDE4A5. A reverse two-hybrid screen identified numerous additional variants in the tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) region of AIP that also disrupted its ability to interact with PDE4A5. The expression of PDE4A4 and PDE4A8 in normal pituitary, their increased expression in adenomatous pituitary cells where AIP is meant to participate, and the disruption of the PDE4A4-AIP interaction by AIP mutants may play a role in pituitary tumorigenesis.
Project description:Cushing disease caused by adrenocorticotropin (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenomas leads to hypercortisolemia predisposing to diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, central obesity, cardiovascular morbidity, and increased mortality. There is no effective pituitary targeted pharmacotherapy for Cushing disease. Here, we generated germline transgenic zebrafish with overexpression of pituitary tumor transforming gene (PTTG/securin) targeted to the adenohypophyseal proopiomelanocortin (POMC) lineage, which recapitulated early features pathognomonic of corticotroph adenomas, including corticotroph expansion and partial glucocorticoid resistance. Adult Tg:Pomc-Pttg fish develop neoplastic coticotrophs and pituitary cyclin E up-regulation, as well as metabolic disturbances mimicking hypercortisolism caused by Cushing disease. Early development of corticotroph pathologies in Tg:Pomc-Pttg embryos facilitated drug testing in vivo. We identified a pharmacologic CDK2/cyclin E inhibitor, R-roscovitine (seliciclib; CYC202), which specifically reversed corticotroph expansion in live Tg:Pomc-Pttg embryos. We further validated that orally administered R-roscovitine suppresses ACTH and corticosterone levels, and also restrained tumor growth in a mouse model of ACTH-secreting pituitary adenomas. Molecular analyses in vitro and in vivo showed that R-roscovitine suppresses ACTH expression, induces corticotroph tumor cell senescence and cell cycle exit by up-regulating p27, p21 and p57, and downregulates cyclin E expression. The results suggest that use of selective CDK inhibitors could effectively target corticotroph tumor growth and hormone secretion.
Project description:Cushing's disease results from corticotroph adenomas of the pituitary that hypersecrete adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), leading to excess glucocorticoid and hypercortisolism. Mutations of the deubiquitinase gene USP8 occur in 35-62% of corticotroph adenomas. However, the major driver mutations in USP8 wild-type tumors remain elusive. Here, we report recurrent mutations in the deubiquitinase gene USP48 (predominantly encoding p.M415I or p.M415V; 21/91 subjects) and BRAF (encoding p.V600E; 15/91 subjects) in corticotroph adenomas with wild-type USP8. Similar to USP8 mutants, both USP48 and BRAF mutants enhance the promoter activity and transcription of the gene encoding proopiomelanocortin (POMC), which is the precursor of ACTH, providing a potential mechanism for ACTH overproduction in corticotroph adenomas. Moreover, primary corticotroph tumor cells harboring BRAF V600E are sensitive to the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib. Our study thus contributes to the understanding of the molecular mechanism of the pathogenesis of corticotroph adenoma and informs therapeutic targets for this disease.
Project description:Cushing's disease (CD) is a severe disorder characterized by chronic hypercortisolism due to an ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma. Transsphenoidal adenomectomy is the treatment of choice in humans with CD, but recurrences occur frequently. Finding an effective and safe medical treatment for CD may improve long-term clinical outcome. The recent demonstration of expression of somatostatin receptor subtypes (mainly sst5) and dopamine receptor subtype 2 (D2) in human corticotroph adenomas offers the possibility for medical treatment of CD with novel somatostatin analogs and dopamine agonists. Investigation of the effects of these drugs is hampered by the low incidence of CD in humans. Interestingly, CD is a frequent disorder in dogs with striking clinical similarities with CD in humans. Therefore, we investigated the expression and functional role of D2 and somatostatin receptors in corticotroph adenoma cells from 13 dogs with active CD that underwent therapeutic hypophysectomy and normal anterior pituitary cells from five dogs. Quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry revealed that both in CD and normal anterior pituitary, sst2 was the predominant receptor subtype expressed, whereas D2 was modestly expressed and sst5 was expressed only at very low levels. In primary cultures of canine adenomas (n = 7), the sst2-preferring agonist octreotide also showed the strongest ACTH-suppressive effects. In conclusion, canine corticotroph adenomas provide an interesting model to study CD, but differences in somatostatin and dopamine receptor expression between humans and dogs should be taken into account when using dogs with CD as a model to evaluate efficacy of novel somatostatin analogs and dopamine agonists for human CD.