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1.  Large needle aspiration biopsy and galectin-3 determination in selected thyroid nodules with indeterminate FNA-cytology 
British Journal of Cancer  2006;95(2):204-209.
Thyroid fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNA)-cytology is widely used for the preoperative characterisation of thyroid nodules but this task is difficult for follicular lesions, which often remain undefined. We propose a strategy for improving the preoperative characterisation of selected follicular thyroid proliferations, which is based on large needle aspiration biopsy (LNAB) and galectin-3 expression analysis. Eighty-five thyroid specimens were obtained by LNAB (20-gauge needles) from thyroid nodules with indeterminate follicular FNA-cytology. Aspirated material was processed as a tissue microbiopsy to obtain cell blocks for both cyto/histo-morphological evaluation and galectin-3 expression analysis, by using a purified monoclonal antibody to galectin-3 and a biotin-free immunoperoxidase staining method. Preoperative diagnosis was compared to the final histology. LNAB and cell-block technique allow a preliminary distinction between nodules with a homogeneous microfollicular/trabecular structure, as frequently observed in tumours, and lesions with mixed normo–micro–macrofollicular architecture, as observed in goitre. Furthermore, LNAB provides optimal substrates for galectin-3 expression analysis. Among 85 cases tested, 14 galectin-3-positive cases were discovered preoperatively (11 thyroid cancers and three adenomas confirmed at the final histology), whereas galectin-3-negative cases were 71 (one carcinoma and 70 benign proliferations at the final histology). Sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic accuracy of this integrated morphologic and phenotypic diagnostic approach were 91.6, 97.2 and 95.3%, respectively. In conclusion, LNAB plus galectin-3 expression analysis when applied preoperatively to selected thyroid nodules candidate to surgery can potentially reduce unnecessary thyroid resections.
PMCID: PMC2360621  PMID: 16804521
thyroid cancer; galectin-3; preoperative diagnosis; immunohistochemistry; cell blocks technique
2.  Inflammatory cells contribute to the generation of an angiogenic phenotype in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2004;57(6):630-636.
Background: Inflammatory cells contribute to the growth and spread of human malignancies by producing molecules that enhance tumour invasiveness.
Aims: To characterise the inflammatory infiltrate in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and to analyse its contribution to angiogenesis and its prognostic relevance.
Methods: Immunohistochemistry was used to identify inflammatory cells and evaluate the expression of proangiogenic and prolymphangiogenic molecules (vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), VEGF-C, and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF)) by inflammatory and cancer cells in 137 pancreatic cancers. Intratumorous microvessel density (IMD) was assessed using CD34 as an endothelial cell marker.
Results: There were significantly more mast cells and macrophages in pancreatic cancers than in normal pancreas and the number of mast cells directly correlated with the presence of lymph node metastases. However, there was no relation between numbers of infiltrating inflammatory cells and the presence of chronic pancreatitis (CP)-like changes in the parenchyma surrounding the tumour. Double immunostaining revealed that both pancreatic mast cells and macrophages express VEGF-A, VEGF-C, and bFGF. These factors were also expressed in the tumour cells in many cases. The numbers of VEGF-A expressing tumour cells and bFGF expressing tumour and inflammatory cells significantly correlated with IMD. Moreover, tumours with higher IMD had higher numbers of infiltrating mast cells and macrophages.
Conclusions: Mononuclear inflammatory cells of the non-specific immune response are recruited to pancreatic cancer tissues independent of the presence of CP-like changes, may influence the metastatic capacity of the cancer cells, and may contribute to the development of tumours with high angiogenic activity.
PMCID: PMC1770337  PMID: 15166270
pancreatic cancer; mast cells; macrophages; angiogenesis; tryptase
4.  Guidelines for Follow-Up of Women at High Risk for Inherited Breast Cancer: Consensus Statement from the Biomed 2 Demonstration Programme on Inherited Breast Cancer 
Disease Markers  2002;15(1-3):207-211.
Protocols for activity aiming at early diagnosis and treatment of inherited breast or breast-ovarian cancer have been reported. Available reports on outcome of such programmes are considered here. It is concluded that the ongoing activities should continue with minor modifications. Direct evidence of a survival benefit from breast and ovarian screening is not yet available. On the basis of expert opinion and preliminary results from intervention programmes indicating good detection rates for early breast cancers and 5-year survival concordant with early diagnosis, we propose that women at high risk for inherited breast cancer be offered genetic counselling, education in ‘breast awareness’ and annual mammography and clinical expert examination from around 30 years of age. Mammography every second year may be sufficient from 60 years on. BRCA1 mutation carriers may benefit from more frequent examinations and cancer risk may be reduced by oophorectomy before 40–50 years of age. We strongly advocate that all activities should be organized as multicentre studies subjected to continuous evaluation to measure the effects of the interventions on long-term mortality, to match management options more precisely to individual risks and to prepare the ground for studies on chemoprevention.
PMCID: PMC3850824  PMID: 10595280
6.  Cancer Genetics Services in Europe 
Disease Markers  2002;15(1-3):3-13.
PMCID: PMC3851069  PMID: 10595245
7.  Manumycin inhibits ras signal transduction pathway and induces apoptosis in COLO320-DM human colon tumourcells 
British Journal of Cancer  2000;82(4):905-912.
The aim of the present study was to assess the cytotoxicity of manumycin, a specific inhibitor of farnesyl:protein transferase, as well as its effects on protein isoprenylation and kinase-dependent signal transduction in COLO320-DM human colon adenocarcinoma which harbours a wild-type K- ras gene. Immunoblot analysis of isolated cell membranes and total cellular lysates of COLO320-DM cells demonstrated that manumycin dose-dependently reduced p21 ras farnesylation with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 2.51 ± 0.11 μM and 2.68 ± 0.20 μM, respectively, while the geranylgeranylation of p21 rhoA and p21 rap1 was not affected. Manumycin dose-dependently inhibited (IC50= 2.40 ± 0.67 μM) the phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular-regulated kinase 2 (p42MAPK/ERK2), the main cytoplasmic effector of p21 ras, as well as COLO320-DM cell growth (IC50= 3.58 ± 0.27 μM) without affecting the biosynthesis of cholesterol. Mevalonic acid (MVA, 100 μM), a substrate of the isoprenoid synthesis, was unable to protect COLO320-DM cells from manumycin cytotoxicity. Finally, manumycin 1–25 μM for 24–72 h induced oligonucleosomal fragmentation in a dose- and time-dependent manner and MVA did not protect COLO320-DM cells from undergoing DNA cleavage. The present findings indicate that the inhibition of p21 ras processing and signal transduction by manumycin is associated with marked inhibition of cell proliferation and apoptosis in colon cancer cells and the effect on cell growth does not require the presence of a mutated ras gene for maximal expression of chemotherapeutic activity. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2374379  PMID: 10732765
manumycin; colorectal neoplasms; ras proteins; apoptosis; protein isoprenylation
10.  Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA in non-small-cell lung carcinomas 
British Journal of Cancer  1999;79(2):363-369.
The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been shown to be strictly related to vascular permeability and endothelial cell growth under physiological and pathological conditions. In tumour development and progression, VEGF plays a pivotal role in the development of the tumoral vascular network, and useful information in the progression of human cancer can be obtained by analysing the vascular endothelial growth factor expression of the tumours. In this study, we investigated the vascular endothelial growth factor transcript expression in non-small-cell lung carcinomas to evaluate the significance of this factor in a group of cancers in which the vascular pattern has been shown to significantly affect progression. Surgical samples of 42 patients with NSCLC were studied using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis and in situ hybridization. Thirty-three out of 42 cases (78.6%) showed VEGF transcript expression predominantly as transcripts for the secretory forms of VEGF (isoforms 121 and 165). In situ hybridization, performed on 24 out of 42 samples, showed that the VEGF transcript expression was in several cases present in the cytoplasm both of neoplastic and normal cells, even if the VEGF mRNA was less expressed in the corresponding non-tumoral part. The VEGF 121 expression was associated with hilar and/or mediastinal nodal involvement (P = 0.02), and, taken together, the VEGF isoforms were shown to significantly influence overall (P = 0.02) and disease-free survival (P = 0.03). As a regulator of tumour angiogenesis, VEGF may represent a useful indicator of progression and poor prognosis in non-small-cell lung carcinomas. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2362204  PMID: 9888482
vascular endothelial growth factor; non-small-cell lung cancer; reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; prognosis
11.  Genetic analysis of lung tumours of non-smoking subjects: p53 gene mutations are constantly associated with loss of heterozygosity at the FHIT locus. 
British Journal of Cancer  1998;78(1):73-78.
Lung cancer is strictly associated with tobacco smoking. Tumours developed in non-smoking subjects account for less than 10% of all lung cancers and show peculiar histopathological features, being prevalently adenocarcinomas. A number of genetic data suggest that their biological behaviour may be different from that of lung tumours caused by smoking, however the number of cases investigated to date is too low to draw definitive conclusions. We have examined the status of p53 and K-ras genes and the presence of loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the FHIT locus in a series of 35 lung adenocarcinomas that developed in subjects who had never smoked. Results were compared with those obtained in a series of 35 lung adenocarcinomas from heavy-smoking subjects. In the group of non-smoking subjects p53 mutations and LOH at the FHIT locus were present in seven (20%) cases, and the two alterations were constantly associated (P < 0.0001), whereas they were not related in the series of carcinomas caused by smoking. In tumours developed in heavy-smoking subjects, the frequency of LOH at the FHIT locus was significantly higher (P = 0.006) than in tumours from non-smoking subjects. The frequency of p53 mutations in adenocarcinomas caused by smoking was not different from that seen in non-smoking subjects. However, in the group of smoking subjects we observed mostly G:C --> T:A transversions, whereas frameshift mutations and G:C --> A:T transitions were more frequently found in tumours from non-smoking subjects. No point mutations of the K-ras gene at codon 12 were seen in subjects who had never smoked, whereas they were present (mostly G:C --> T:A transversions) in 34% of tumours caused by smoking (P = 0.002). Our data suggest that lung adenocarcinomas developed in subjects who had never smoked represent a distinct biological entity involving a co-alteration of the p53 gene and the FHIT locus in 20% of cases.
PMCID: PMC2062949  PMID: 9662254
12.  Evaluation of FHIT gene alterations in ovarian cancer. 
British Journal of Cancer  1998;77(7):1048-1051.
The FHIT gene, recently cloned and mapped on chromosome 3p14.2, has frequently been found to be abnormal in several established cancer cell lines and primary tumours. As alterations of chromosome 3p are common events in ovarian cancers with breakpoint sites at 3p14.2, we decided to investigate the role of FHIT in human ovarian tumorigenesis. Fifty-four primary ovarian carcinomas were studied by reverse transcription of FHIT mRNA followed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and sequencing of products. The same tumours and matched normal tissues were also investigated for loss of heterozygosity using three microsatellite markers located inside the gene. We found an abnormal transcript of the FHIT gene in two cases (4%) and allelic losses in eight cases (15%). Twelve (22%) of the 54 tumours investigated belonged to young patients with a family history of breast/ovarian cancer. In none of these cases was the FHITgene found to be altered. Our results indicate that FHITplays a role in a small proportion of ovarian carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC2150139  PMID: 9569038
13.  p53 alterations are predictive of chemoresistance and aggressiveness in ovarian carcinomas: a molecular and immunohistochemical study. 
British Journal of Cancer  1997;75(2):230-235.
Chemotherapeutic management of ovarian cancers is a difficult task as these neoplasms show significant differences in chemosensitivity, even if they share identical clinicopathological features. The present study was undertaken to investigate the prognostic and predictive role of p53 alterations in ovarian cancer. To this end, using different technical approaches, i.e. genetic and immunohistochemical analyses, we analysed a series of 68 ovarian neoplasms including 15 low malignant potential (LMP) tumours and 53 invasive carcinomas. We never observed p53 abnormalities in LMP tumours. p53 alterations were present only in invasive ovarian carcinomas, and they were detected much more frequently in tumours characterized by high histological grade (P = 0.01) and advanced-stage disease (P = 0.006 and P = 0.05 for gene mutations and protein expression respectively). For 33 patients with invasive ovarian cancer, information was available concerning response to cisplatin-based chemotherapy. A strong correlation (P = 0.001) has emerged between p53 alterations and response to chemotherapy; only one (14%) of seven patients who had a pathological complete response to antiblastic drugs showed p53 aberrations, whereas 18 (82%) of 22 cases with partial response and all of the four non-responsive patients scored positive for p53 abnormalities. We also observed that patients with p53 mutations had a significantly shorter progression-free survival than patients with p53-negative tumours (P = 0.05). Taken together, our results strongly suggest that in epithelial ovarian malignancies tumours showing p53 aberrations are significantly less sensitive to chemotherapy and more aggressive than those with functional p53. Thus, a routine analysis of this gene could have profound implications for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC2063269  PMID: 9010031
14.  Neoangiogenesis and p53 protein in lung cancer: their prognostic role and their relation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression. 
British Journal of Cancer  1997;75(9):1295-1301.
Following up-regulation of an angiogenesis inhibitor by the wild-type p53 protein proven recently, we have analysed on the one hand the prognostic impact of microvessel count (MC) and p53 protein overexpression in non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) progression and, on the other hand, the inter-relation between the microvascular pattern and the p53 protein expression. Moreover, we assessed the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), one of the pivotal mediators of tumour angiogenesis, in order to investigate its relation to p53 protein expression and MC. Tumours from 73 patients resected for NSCLC between March 1991 and April 1992 (median follow-up 47 months, range 32-51 months) were analysed using an immunohistochemical method. In univariate analysis, MC and p53 accumulation were shown to affect metastatic nodal involvement, recurrence and death significantly. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed an important prognostic influence of MC and nodal status on overall (P = 0.0009; P = 0.01) and disease-free survival (P = 0.0001; P = 0.03). Interestingly, a strong statistical association was observed between p53 nuclear accumulation and MC (P = 0.0003). The same inter-relationship was found in non-squamous histotype (P = 0.002). When we analysed the concomitant influence of MC and p53 expression on overall survival, we were able to confirm a real predominant role of MC in comparison with p53. With regard to VEGF expression, p53-negative and lowly vascularized tumours showed a mean VEGF expression significantly lower than p53-positive and highly vascularized cancers (P = 0.02). These results underline the prognostic impact of MC and p53 protein accumulation in NSCLC and their reciprocal inter-relationship, supporting the hypothesis of a wild-type p53 regulation on the angiogenetic process through a VEGF up-regulation.
PMCID: PMC2228220  PMID: 9155049
15.  p21WAF1 immunohistochemical expression in breast carcinoma: correlations with clinicopathological data, oestrogen receptor status, MIB1 expression, p53 gene and protein alterations and relapse-free survival. 
British Journal of Cancer  1996;74(2):208-215.
p21 protein (p21) inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases is a critical downstream effector in the p53-specific pathway of growth control. p21 can also be induced by p53-independent pathways in relation to terminal differentiation. We investigated p21 immunoreactivity in normal breast and in 91 breast carcinomas [three in situ ductal carcinomas (DCIS) with microinfiltration and 88 infiltrating carcinomas, 17 of which with an associated DCIS; 57 node negative and 34 node positive] with long-term follow-up (median = 58 months). Seven additional breast carcinomas with known p53 gene mutations were investigated. In normal breast p21 expression was seen in the nuclei of rare luminal cells of acinar structures, and in occasional myoepithelial cells. Poorly differentiated DCIS showed high p21 expression, whereas well-differentiated DCIS tumours showed few p21-reactive cells. p21 was seen in 82 (90%) infiltrating tumours; staining was heterogeneous; the percentage of reactive nuclei ranged from 1% to 35%. High p21 expression (more than 10% of reactive cells) was seen in 24 (26%) cases, and was associated with high tumour grade (P = 0.032); no associations were seen with tumour size, metastases, oestrogen receptor status, MIB1 expression and p53 expression. p21 expression in cases with p53 gene mutations was low in six cases and high in one. High p21 expression was associated with short relapse-free survival (P = 0.003).
PMCID: PMC2074571  PMID: 8688323
16.  bcl-2, p53 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen expression is related to the degree of differentiation in thyroid carcinomas. 
British Journal of Cancer  1996;73(2):139-143.
Thyroid carcinomas are heterogeneous in terms of histology, clinical presentation, treatment response and prognosis. Since bcl-2 and p53 gene alterations are frequently involved in both lymphoid and epithelial malignancies, we analysed the expression of bcl-2, p53 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in a group of 134 patients with thyroid neoplasms. The same markers were evaluated in fetal and adult normal thyroids as well as in 40 benign lesions. The study was carried out by immunocytochemistry on archival material using antibodies against bcl-2 and p53 protein on tissue sections of 40 adenomas (As), 20 medullary carcinomas (MCs), 70 well-differentiated carcinomas (WDCs), 20 poorly differentiated carcinomas (PDCs) and 24 undifferentiated carcinomas (UCs). bcl-2 immunoreactivity was detected in 36 out of 40 (90%) As, 20 out of 20 (100%) MCs, 60 out of 70 (85.7%) WDCs, 20 out of 20 (100%) PDCs, and 8 out of 24 (33.3%) of UCs. p53 expression was present in 11.4% of WDCs, 5% of PDCs, 5% of MCs and 62.5% of UCs. By contrast, no p53 immunoreactivity was detected in 40 adenomas and in all the normal thyroid tissues studied. We observed a positive correlation between the expression of p53 and PCNA (r = 0.42; P = 0.035) in a group of UCs, but not in WDCs, PDCs and MCs. Neither p53 nor bcl-2 expression were correlated with clinicopathological parameters, such as age, sex, pTNM and survival. Our results suggest that in tumours of the follicular epithelium p53 and bcl-2 protein abnormalities are associated with more advanced carcinomas and especially with undifferentiated carcinomas, while they are only rarely altered in tumours of the parafollicular C cells.
PMCID: PMC2074326  PMID: 8546897
17.  Bcl-2 protein: a prognostic factor inversely correlated to p53 in non-small-cell lung cancer. 
British Journal of Cancer  1995;71(5):1003-1007.
Non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) prognosis is strictly related to well-established clinicopathological parameters which have unfortunately become insufficient in the prognostic evaluation of this type of cancer. As p53 and bcl-2 gene deregulations are frequently involved in several types of epithelial malignancies, we investigated the Bcl-2 and p53 protein expression in 91 and 101 cases of NSCLC respectively. The expression was then compared with established indicators of prognosis and biological behaviour of the tumours. No relationship was observed between Bcl-2 and either clinicopathological or biological parameters such as histology, grading, tumour status, nodal metastasis and proliferative activity evaluated by scoring proliferating cell nuclear antigen expression and Ki-67 immunoreactivity. However, the mean Bcl-2 expression was significantly lower in patients who developed metastasis during follow-up or died of metastatic disease (P = 0.006 and P = 0.01 respectively). Moreover, survival probability was higher in patients who expressed the Bcl-2 protein (P = 0.0002). In contrast with this, p53 protein accumulation was observed in tumours with metastatic nodal involvement (P = 0.02) or in patients who developed metastasis during follow-up (P = 0.01), although no correlation was found between p53 expression and overall survival. An inverse relationship was also found between Bcl-2 and the anti-oncogene protein product p53 (P = 0.01). Thus, a high proportion of NSCLCs express p53 and Bcl-2 proteins and their expression may have prognostic importance.
PMCID: PMC2033793  PMID: 7734290

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