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1.  Heterogeneous Genetic Background of the Association of Pheochromocytoma/Paraganglioma and Pituitary Adenoma: Results From a Large Patient Cohort 
Pituitary adenomas and pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas (pheo/PGL) can occur in the same patient or in the same family. Coexistence of the two diseases could be due to either a common pathogenic mechanism or a coincidence.
The objective of the investigation was to study the possible coexistence of pituitary adenoma and pheo/PGL.
Thirty-nine cases of sporadic or familial pheo/PGL and pituitary adenomas were investigated. Known pheo/PGL genes (SDHA-D, SDHAF2, RET, VHL, TMEM127, MAX, FH) and pituitary adenoma genes (MEN1, AIP, CDKN1B) were sequenced using next generation or Sanger sequencing. Loss of heterozygosity study and pathological studies were performed on the available tumor samples.
The study was conducted at university hospitals.
Thirty-nine patients with sporadic of familial pituitary adenoma and pheo/PGL participated in the study.
Outcomes included genetic screening and clinical characteristics.
Eleven germline mutations (five SDHB, one SDHC, one SDHD, two VHL, and two MEN1) and four variants of unknown significance (two SDHA, one SDHB, and one SDHAF2) were identified in the studied genes in our patient cohort. Tumor tissue analysis identified LOH at the SDHB locus in three pituitary adenomas and loss of heterozygosity at the MEN1 locus in two pheochromocytomas. All the pituitary adenomas of patients affected by SDHX alterations have a unique histological feature not previously described in this context.
Mutations in the genes known to cause pheo/PGL can rarely be associated with pituitary adenomas, whereas mutation in a gene predisposing to pituitary adenomas (MEN1) can be associated with pheo/PGL. Our findings suggest that genetic testing should be considered in all patients or families with the constellation of pheo/PGL and a pituitary adenoma.
PMCID: PMC4333031  PMID: 25494863
2.  Loss of PDCD4 contributes to enhanced chemoresistance in Glioblastoma Multiforme through de-repression of Bcl-xL translation 
Oncotarget  2013;4(9):1365-1372.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and aggressive form of tumor of the central nervous system. Despite significant efforts to improve treatments, patient survival rarely exceeds 18 months largely due to the highly chemoresistant nature of these tumors. Importantly, misregulation of the apoptotic machinery plays a key role in the development of drug resistance. We previously demonstrated that Bcl-xL, an important anti-apoptotic protein, is regulated at the level of translation by the tumor suppressor programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4). We report here a strong correlation between low expression of PDCD4 and high expression of Bcl-xL in adult de novo GBM, GBM tumor initiating cells, and established GBM cell lines. Importantly, high Bcl-xL expression correlated significantly with poor progression and patient survival. We demonstrate that re-expression of PDCD4 in GBM cells down-regulated Bcl-xL expression and decreased cell viability. Finally, we show that direct inhibition of Bcl-xL by small molecule antagonist ABT-737 sensitizes GBM cells to doxorubicin. Our results identify Bcl-xL as a novel marker of GBM chemoresistance and advocate for the combined use of Bcl-xL antagonists and existing chemotherapeutics as a treatment option for this aggressive tumor.
PMCID: PMC3824522  PMID: 23965755
Glioblastoma multiforme; Bcl-xL; PDCD4; ABT-737; translation initiation; IRES
3.  Transcriptome analysis of MENX-associated rat pituitary adenomas identifies novel molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of human pituitary gonadotroph adenomas 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;126(1):137-150.
Gonadotroph adenomas comprise 15–40 % of all pituitary tumors, are usually non-functioning and are often large and invasive at presentation. Surgery is the first-choice treatment, but complete resection is not always achieved, leading to high recurrence rates. As gonadotroph adenomas poorly respond to conventional pharmacological therapies, novel treatment strategies are needed. Their identification has been hampered by our incomplete understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of these tumors. Recently, we demonstrated that MENX-affected rats develop gonadotroph adenomas closely resembling their human counterparts. To discover new genes/pathways involved in gonadotroph cells tumorigenesis, we performed transcriptome profiling of rat tumors versus normal pituitary. Adenomas showed overrepresentation of genes involved in cell cycle, development, cell differentiation/proliferation, and lipid metabolism. Bioinformatic analysis identified downstream targets of the transcription factor SF-1 as being up-regulated in rat (and human) adenomas. Meta-analyses demonstrated remarkable similarities between gonadotroph adenomas in rats and humans, and highlighted common dysregulated genes, several of which were not previously implicated in pituitary tumorigenesis. Two such genes, CYP11A1 and NUSAP1, were analyzed in 39 human gonadotroph adenomas by qRT-PCR and found to be up-regulated in 77 and 95 % of cases, respectively. Immunohistochemistry detected high P450scc (encoded by CYP11A1) and NuSAP expression in 18 human gonadotroph tumors. In vitro studies demonstrated for the first time that Cyp11a1 is a target of SF-1 in gonadotroph cells and promotes proliferation/survival of rat pituitary adenoma primary cells and cell lines. Our studies reveal clues about the molecular mechanisms driving rat and human gonadotroph adenomas development, and may help identify previously unexplored biomarkers for clinical use.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1132-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3690182  PMID: 23756599
Pituitary gonadotroph adenoma; Transcriptome analysis; MENX model; CYP11A1; NUSAP1
4.  [11C]-(R)PK11195 tracer kinetics in the brain of glioma patients and a comparison of two referencing approaches 
Translocator protein (TSPO) is a biomarker of neuroinflammation that can be imaged by PET using [11C]-(R)PK11195. We sought to characterize the [11C]-(R)PK11195 kinetics in gliomas of different histotypes and grades, and to compare two reference tissue input functions (supervised cluster analysis versus cerebellar grey matter) for the estimation of [11C]-(R)PK11195 binding in gliomas and surrounding brain structures.
Twenty-three glioma patients and ten age-matched controls underwent structural MRI and dynamic [11C]-(R)PK11195 PET scans. Tissue time–activity curves (TACs) were extracted from tumour regions as well as grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) of the brains. Parametric maps of binding potential (BPND) were generated with the simplified reference tissue model using the two input functions, and were compared with each other. TSPO expression was assessed in tumour tissue sections by immunohistochemistry.
Three types of regional kinetics were observed in individual tumour TACs: GM-like kinetics (n = 6, clearance of the tracer similar to that in cerebellar GM), WM-like kinetics (n = 8, clearance of the tracer similar to that in cerebral WM) and a form of mixed kinetics (n = 9, intermediate rate of clearance). Such kinetic patterns differed between low-grade astrocytomas (WM-like kinetics) and oligodendrogliomas (GM-like and mixed kinetics), but were independent of tumour grade. There was good agreement between parametric maps of BPND derived from the two input functions in all controls and 10 of 23 glioma patients. In 13 of the 23 patients, BPND values derived from the supervised cluster input were systematically smaller than those using the cerebellar input. Immunohistochemistry confirmed that TSPO expression increased with tumour grade.
The three types of [11C]-(R)PK11195 kinetics in gliomas are determined in part by tracer delivery, and indicated that kinetic analysis is a valuable tool in the study of gliomas with the potential for in vivo discrimination between low-grade astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas. Supervised cluster and cerebellar input functions produced consistent BPND estimates in approximately half of the gliomas investigated, but had a systematic difference in the remainder. The cerebellar input is preferred based on theoretical and practical considerations.
PMCID: PMC3738844  PMID: 23715902
Translocator protein; [11C]-(R)PK11195; Kinetic analysis; Reference tissue; Glioma; PET
5.  Cortical ependymoma: an unusual epileptogenic lesion 
Journal of Neurosurgery  2011;114(4):1187-1194.
Supratentorial cortical ependymomas (CE) are rare, with 7 cases reported. The lesions, typically occurring in the superficial cortex in young adults and associated with a history of seizures, are not fully characterized. Furthermore, their relationship with the recently described angiocentric glioma (AG) is still being debated. This study was undertaken to summarize the authors’ experience with CEs.
Between 1997 and 2009, 202 cases of ependymoma were surgically treated at the Mayo Clinic, 49 of which were supratentorial. Among these, 9 CE cases were retrospectively identified. Clinical, imaging, and pathological features of each case were reviewed.
Tumors arose from the frontal (5 cases), parietal (3), and occipital (1) lobes. No tumor occurred in the temporal lobe, despite its reported association with seizures. The mean age at presentation was 27 ± 19 years (± SD) and age at resection was 36 ± 16 years. The mean size of the lesion was 16 ± 14 cm3. Seizures were the presenting symptom in 78%. Cross-sectional imaging in 8 cases was characterized by a heterogeneous mass with multiple cystlike areas and enhancement of the soft-tissue component. Gross-total resection was achieved in 8 of 9 tumors. Pathologically, 6 were low-grade (WHO Grade II) and 3 were anaplastic (WHO Grade III) ependymomas. All tumors exhibited the focal presence of perivascular pseudorosettes, but only 1 (11 %) exhibited the focal presence of a true rosette. A bipolar spindle cell component resembling AG was present in 3 (33%) and “Schwannian-like” nodules in 2 (22%). Subpial aggregation and peripheral infiltration were present in 4 cases (44%}. With a mean postsurgery follow-up of 62 ± 38 months, only 2 lesions recurred locally after imaging-confirmed gross-total resection, both being Grade III. In 5 (71 %) of 7 patients presenting with seizures an Engel Class I outcome was achieved.
Cortical ependymomas represent a rare type of ependymoma occurring superficially in the cortex. Morphologically, these tumors are protean, varying from classic to epithelioid, clear cell, and tanycytic. Some also exhibited features typical of AG. Most tumors were low grade and cured with resection. Anaplastic tumors occur and may recur locally despite provision of radiation therapy. Cortical ependymomas frequently, but not always, present with seizures, but despite their high association with epilepsy, none occurred in the temporal lobe in any of the authors’ 9 patients. Overall, CEs appear to have a relatively favorable prognosis compared with other supratentorial ependymomas.
PMCID: PMC3271434  PMID: 21235315
ependymoma; epilepsy; cortical ependymoma; outcome
6.  Mean Expression of the X-Chromosome is Associated with Neuronal Density 
Background: Neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by key features such as loss of neurons, astrocytosis, and microglial activation/proliferation. These changes cause differences in the density of cell types between control and disease subjects, confounding results from gene expression studies. Chromosome X (ChrX) is known to be specifically important in the brain. We hypothesized the existence of a chromosomal signature of gene expression associated with the X-chromosome for neurological conditions not normally associated with that chromosome. The hypothesis was investigated using publicly available microarray datasets from studies on Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Data were analyzed using Chromowave, an analytical tool for detecting spatially extended expression changes along chromosomes. To examine associations with neuronal density and astrocytosis, the expression of cell specific reporter genes was extracted. The association between these genes and the expression patterns extracted by Chromowave was then analyzed. Further analyses of the X:Autosome ratios for laser dissected neurons, microglia cultures and whole tissue were performed to detect cell specific differences. Results: We observed an extended pattern of low expression of ChrX consistent in all the neurodegenerative disease brain datasets. There was a strong correlation between mean ChrX expression and the pattern extracted from the autosomal genes representing neurons, but not with mean autosomal expression. No chromosomal patterns associated with the neuron specific genes were found on other chromosomes. The chromosomal expression pattern was not present in datasets from blood cells. The X:Autosome expression ratio was also higher in neuronal cells than in tissues with a mix of cell types. Conclusions: The results suggest that neurological disorders show as a reduction in mean expression of many genes along ChrX. The most likely explanation for this finding relates to the documented general up-regulation of ChrX in brain tissue which, this work suggests, occurs primarily in neurons. If validated, this cell specific ChrX expression warrants further research as understanding the biological reasons and mechanisms for this expression, may help to elucidate a connection with the development of neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC3495263  PMID: 23162423
Chromowave; chromosome X; dosage compensation; wavelets; neuronal concentration
7.  Annexin A1: A Central Player in the Anti-Inflammatory and Neuroprotective Role of Microglia 
The brain microenvironment is continuously monitored by microglia with the detection of apoptotic cells or pathogens being rapidly followed by their phagocytosis to prevent inflammatory responses. The protein annexin A1 (ANXA1) is key to the phagocytosis of apoptotic leukocytes during peripheral inflammatory resolution, but the pathophysiological significance of its expression in the CNS that is restricted almost exclusively to microglia is unclear. In this study, we test the hypothesis that ANXA1 is important in the microglial clearance of apoptotic neurons in both noninflammatory and inflammatory conditions. We have identified ANXA1 to be sparingly expressed in microglia of normally aged human brains and to be more strongly expressed in Alzheimer's disease. Using an in vitro model comprising microglial and neuronal cell lines, as well as primary microglia from wild-type and ANXA1 null mice, we have identified two distinct roles for microglial ANXA1: 1) controlling the noninflammatory phagocytosis of apoptotic neurons and 2) promoting resolution of inflammatory microglial activation. In particular, we showed that microglial-derived ANXA1 targets apoptotic neurons, serving as both an “eat me” signal and a bridge between phosphatidylserine on the dying cell and formyl peptide receptor 2 on the phagocytosing microglia. Moreover, inflammatory activation of microglia impairs their ability to discriminate between apoptotic and nonapoptotic cells, an ability restored by exogenous ANXA1. We thus show that ANXA1 is fundamental for brain homeostasis, and we suggest that ANXA1 and its peptidomimetics can be novel therapeutic targets in neuroinflammation.
PMCID: PMC3145124  PMID: 20962261
8.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected human monocytes down-regulate microglial MMP-2 secretion in CNS tuberculosis via TNFα, NFκB, p38 and caspase 8 dependent pathways 
Tuberculosis (TB) of the central nervous system (CNS) is a deadly disease characterized by extensive tissue destruction, driven by molecules such as Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) which targets CNS-specific substrates. In a simplified cellular model of CNS TB, we demonstrated that conditioned medium from Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected primary human monocytes (CoMTb), but not direct infection, unexpectedly down-regulates constitutive microglial MMP-2 gene expression and secretion by 72.8% at 24 hours, sustained up to 96 hours (P < 0.01), dependent upon TNF-α. In human CNS TB brain biopsies but not controls the p38 pathway was activated in microglia/macrophages. Inhibition of the p38 MAP kinase pathway resulted in a 228% increase in MMP-2 secretion (P < 0.01). In contrast ERK MAP kinase inhibition further decreased MMP-2 secretion by 76.6% (P < 0.05). Inhibition of the NFκB pathway resulted in 301% higher MMP-2 secretion than CoMTb alone (P < 0.01). Caspase 8 restored MMP-2 secretion to basal levels. However, this caspase-dependent regulation of MMP-2 was independent of p38 and NFκB pathways; p38 phosphorylation was increased and p50/p65 NFκB nuclear trafficking unaffected by caspase 8 inhibition. In summary, suppression of microglial MMP-2 secretion by M.tb-infected monocyte-dependent networks paradoxically involves the pro-inflammatory mediators TNF-α, p38 MAP kinase and NFκB in addition to a novel caspase 8-dependent pathway.
PMCID: PMC3113956  PMID: 21569377
9.  Incidence and spectrum of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease variants with mixed phenotype and co-occurrence of PrPSc types: an updated classification 
Acta Neuropathologica  2009;118(5):659-671.
Six subtypes of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease with distinctive clinico-pathological features have been identified largely based on two types of the abnormal prion protein, PrPSc, and the methionine (M)/valine (V) polymorphic codon 129 of the prion protein. The existence of affected subjects showing mixed phenotypic features and concurrent PrPSc types has been reported but with inconsistencies among studies in both results and their interpretation. The issue currently complicates diagnosis and classification of cases and also has implications for disease pathogenesis. To explore the issue in depth, we carried out a systematic regional study in a large series of 225 cases. PrPSc types 1 and 2 concurrence was detected in 35% of cases and was higher in MM than in MV or VV subjects. The deposition of either type 1 or 2, when concurrent, was not random and always characterized by the coexistence of phenotypic features previously described in the pure subtypes. PrPSc type 1 accumulation and related pathology predominated in MM and MV cases, while the type 2 phenotype prevailed in VVs. Neuropathological examination best identified the mixed types 1 and 2 features in MMs and most MVs, and also uniquely revealed the co-occurrence of pathological variants sharing PrPSc type 2. In contrast, molecular typing best detected the concurrent PrPSc types in VV subjects and MV cases with kuru plaques. The present data provide an updated disease classification and are of importance for future epidemiologic and transmission studies aimed to identify etiology and extent of strain variation in sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.
PMCID: PMC2773124  PMID: 19718500
Prion protein; Brain mapping; Molecular typing; Neurodegeneration; Classification
10.  Evaluation of α-synuclein immunohistochemical methods used by invited experts 
Acta neuropathologica  2008;116(3):277-288.
The use of α-synuclein immunohistochemistry has altered our concepts of the cellular pathology, anatomical distribution and prevalence of Lewy body disorders. However, the diversity of methodology between laboratories has led to some inconsistencies in the literature. Adoption of uniformly sensitive methods may resolve some of these differences. Eight different immunohistochemical methods for demonstrating α-synuclein pathology, developed in eight separate expert laboratories, were evaluated for their sensitivity for neuronal elements affected by human Lewy body disorders. Identical test sets of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections from subjects diagnosed neuropathologically with or without Lewy body disorders were stained with the eight methods and graded by three observers for specific and nonspecific staining. The methods did not differ significantly in terms of Lewy body counts, but varied considerably in their ability to reveal neuropil elements such as fibers and dots. One method was clearly superior for revealing these neuropil elements and the critical factor contributing to its high sensitivity was considered to be its use of proteinase K as an epitope retrieval method. Some methods, however, achieved relatively high sensitivities with optimized formic acid protocols combined with a hydrolytic step. One method was developed that allows high sensitivity with commercially available reagents.
PMCID: PMC2708176  PMID: 18626651
11.  Chromosomal patterns of gene expression from microarray data: methodology, validation and clinical relevance in gliomas 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:526.
Expression microarrays represent a powerful technique for the simultaneous investigation of thousands of genes. The evidence that genes are not randomly distributed in the genome and that their coordinated expression depends on their position on chromosomes has highlighted the need for mathematical approaches to exploit this dependency for the analysis of expression data-sets.
We have devised a novel mathematical technique (CHROMOWAVE) based on the Haar wavelet transform and applied it to a dataset obtained with the Affymetrix® HG-U133_Plus_2 array in 27 gliomas. CHROMOWAVE generated multi-chromosomal pattern featuring low expression in chromosomes 1p, 4, 9q, 13, 18, and 19q. This pattern was not only statistically robust but also clinically relevant as it was predictive of favourable outcome. This finding was replicated on a data-set independently acquired by another laboratory. FISH analysis indicated that monosomy 1p and 19q was a frequent feature of tumours displaying the CHROMOWAVE pattern but that allelic loss on chromosomes 4, 9q, 13 and 18 was much less common.
The ability to detect expression changes of spatially related genes and to map their position on chromosomes makes CHROMOWAVE a valuable screening method for the identification and display of regional gene expression changes of clinical relevance. In this study, FISH data showed that monosomy was frequently associated with diffuse low gene expression on chromosome 1p and 19q but not on chromosomes 4, 9q, 13 and 18. Comparative genomic hybridisation, allelic polymorphism analysis and methylation studies are in progress in order to identify the various mechanisms involved in this multi-chromosomal expression pattern.
PMCID: PMC1698583  PMID: 17140431

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