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1.  Analysis of AKT and ERK1/2 protein kinases in extracellular vesicles isolated from blood of patients with cancer 
Journal of Extracellular Vesicles  2014;3:10.3402/jev.v3.25657.
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small nanometre-sized vesicles that are circulating in blood. They are released by multiple cells, including tumour cells. We hypothesized that circulating EVs contain protein kinases that may be assessed as biomarkers during treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
EVs released by U87 glioma cells, H3255 and H1650 non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells were profiled by tandem mass spectrometry. Total AKT/protein kinase B and extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) levels as well as their relative phosphorylation were measured by western blot in isogenic U87 cells with or without mutant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFRvIII) and their corresponding EVs. To assess biomarker potential, plasma samples from 24 healthy volunteers and 42 patients with cancer were used.
In total, 130 different protein kinases were found to be released in EVs including multiple drug targets, such as mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), AKT, ERK1/2, AXL and EGFR. Overexpression of EGFRvIII in U87 cells results in increased phosphorylation of EGFR, AKT and ERK1/2 in cells and EVs, whereas a decreased phosphorylation was noted upon treatment with the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib. EV samples derived from patients with cancer contained significantly more protein (p=0.0067) compared to healthy donors. Phosphorylation of AKT and ERK1/2 in plasma EVs from both healthy donors and patients with cancer was relatively low compared to levels in cancer cells. Preliminary analysis of total AKT and ERK1/2 levels in plasma EVs from patients with NSCLC before and after sorafenib/metformin treatment (n=12) shows a significant decrease in AKT levels among patients with a favourable treatment response (p<0.005).
Phosphorylation of protein kinases in EVs reflects their phosphorylation in tumour cells. Total AKT protein levels may allow monitoring of kinase inhibitor responses in patients with cancer.
PMCID: PMC4261239  PMID: 25491250
biomarker; cancer; kinase inhibitor; signalling; plasma
2.  Reduced NF1 expression confers resistance to EGFR inhibition in lung cancer 
Cancer discovery  2014;4(5):606-619.
Activating mutations in the EGF receptor (EGFR) are associated with clinical responsiveness to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as erlotinib and gefitinib. However, resistance eventually arises, often due to a second EGFR mutation, most commonly T790M. Through a genome-wide siRNA screen in a human lung cancer cell line and analyses of murine mutant EGFR-driven lung adenocarcinomas, we found that erlotinib resistance was associated with reduced expression of neurofibromin, the RAS GTPase activating protein encoded by the NF1 gene. Erlotinib failed to fully inhibit RAS-ERK signaling when neurofibromin levels were reduced. Treatment of neurofibromin-deficient lung cancers with a MEK inhibitor restored sensitivity to erlotinib. Low levels of NF1 expression were associated with primary and acquired resistance of lung adenocarcinomas to EGFR TKIs in patients. These findings identify a subgroup of patients with EGFR mutant lung adenocarcinoma who might benefit from combination therapy with EGFR and MEK inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC4011693  PMID: 24535670
NF1; EGFR; KRAS; MAPK pathway; drug resistance; erlotinib; gefitinib; lung adenocarcinoma
3.  Reduced NF1 expression confers resistance to EGFR inhibition in lung cancer 
Cancer discovery  2014;4(5):606-619.
Activating mutations in the EGF receptor (EGFR) are associated with clinical responsiveness to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), such as erlotinib and gefitinib. However, resistance eventually arises, often due to a second EGFR mutation, most commonly T790M. Through a genome-wide siRNA screen in a human lung cancer cell line and analyses of murine mutant EGFR-driven lung adenocarcinomas, we found that erlotinib resistance was associated with reduced expression of neurofibromin, the RAS GTPase activating protein encoded by the NF1 gene. Erlotinib failed to fully inhibit RAS-ERK signaling when neurofibromin levels were reduced. Treatment of neurofibromin-deficient lung cancers with a MEK inhibitor restored sensitivity to erlotinib. Low levels of NF1 expression were associated with primary and acquired resistance of lung adenocarcinomas to EGFR TKIs in patients. These findings identify a subgroup of patients with EGFR mutant lung adenocarcinoma who might benefit from combination therapy with EGFR and MEK inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC4011693  PMID: 24535670
NF1; EGFR; KRAS; MAPK pathway; drug resistance; erlotinib; gefitinib; lung adenocarcinoma
4.  Dual Inhibition of EGFR with Afatinib and Cetuximab in Kinase Inhibitor-Resistant EGFR-Mutant Lung Cancer With and Without T790M Mutations 
Cancer discovery  2014;4(9):1036-1045.
EGFR-mutant lung cancers responsive to reversible EGFR inhibitors (gefitinib/erlotinib) develop acquired resistance, mediated by second-site EGFR T790M mutation in >50% cases. Preclinically, afatinib (irreversible ErbB family blocker) plus cetuximab (anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody) overcomes T790M-mediated resistance. This phase Ib study combining afatinib and cetuximab enrolled heavily pretreated patients with advanced EGFR-mutant lung cancer and acquired resistance to erlotinib/gefitinib. Patients provided post-acquired-resistance tumor samples for profiling EGFR mutations. Among 126 patients, objective response rate (overall 29%) was comparable in T790M-positive and T790M-negative tumors (32% vs. 25%; P = 0.341). Median progression-free survival was 4.7 months (95% confidence interval, 4.3–6.4); median duration of confirmed objective response was 5.7 months (range, 1.8–24.4). Therapy-related grade 3/4 adverse events occurred in 44%/2% of patients. Afatinib/cetuximab demonstrated robust clinical activity and a manageable safety profile in EGFR-mutant lung cancers with acquired resistance to gefitinib or erlotinib, both with and without T790M mutations, warranting further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4155006  PMID: 25074459
afatinib; cetuximab; acquired resistance
5.  Benefit of a second opinion: From metastatic disease to resectable lung cancer with sarcoid-like reaction 
Mediastinal lymphadenopathy in combination with lung cancer is suggestive for lymph node metastases but can also have other origins.
Case report
We describe a patient diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer presenting with parenchymal lesions and enlarged mediastinal lymph nodes. A second opinion including FDG-PET scan review and a mediastinoscopy followed by surgery revealed tumor specimens originating from a single primary tumor with a sarcoid-like reaction in the mediastinal lymph nodes, changing the diagnosis from metastasized to resectable lung cancer.
PET positive lesions are not always synonymous with metastatic disease in the presence of a malignant tumor. Conscientious review of FDG-PET scans and tissue sampling are therefore mandatory to determine definitive staging and subsequent interventions.
PMCID: PMC4246249
Non-small cell lung cancer; Second opinion; Mediastinal enlargement; Sarcoid-like reaction
6.  Frequent and Focal FGFR1 Amplification Associates With Therapeutically Tractable FGFR1 Dependency in Squamous-cell Lung Cancer 
Science translational medicine  2010;2(62):62ra93.
Lung cancer remains one of the leading causes for cancer-related death in developed countries. In lung adenocarcinomas, EGFR mutations and EML4-ALK fusions are associated with response to EGFR and ALK inhibition. By contrast, therapeutically exploitable genetic alterations have been lacking in squamous-cell lung cancer. We conducted a systematic search for alterations that are therapeutically amenable and performed high-resolution gene-copy number analyses in a set of 232 lung cancer specimens. We identified frequent and focal FGFR1 amplification in squamous-cell lung cancer (n=155), but not in other lung cancer subtypes, and confirmed its presence in an independent cohort of squamous-cell lung cancer samples employing FISH (22% of cases). Using cell-based screening with the FGFR inhibitor (PD173074) in a large (n=83) panel of lung cancer cell lines, we demonstrated that this compound inhibited growth (p=0.0002) and induced apoptosis (p=0.008) specifically in those lung cancer cells carrying amplified FGFR1. We validated the dependency on FGFR1 of FGFR1-amplified cell lines by knockdown of FGFR1 and by ectopic expression of a resistance allele of FGFR1 (FGFR1V561M), which rescued FGFR1-amplified cells from PD173074-mediated cytotoxicity. Finally we showed that inhibition of FGFR1 with a small molecule led to significant tumor shrinkage in vivo. Focal FGFR1 amplification is common in squamous-cell lung cancer and associated with tumor growth and survival, suggesting that FGFR inhibitors may be a viable therapeutic option in this cohort of patients.
PMCID: PMC3990281  PMID: 21160078
7.  Benefit of a Second Opinion for Lung Cancer: No Metastasis to the Kidney but a Synchronous Primary Renal Neoplasm 
Case Reports in Oncology  2014;7(1):122-125.
The finding of a renal mass on imaging is suggestive of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer in the presence of a lung tumor but can also have another origin.
Case Report
We describe the case of a patient diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer based on a renal metastasis. A second opinion including review of histopathological data and additional imaging followed by lung surgery and cryoablation of the kidney lesion revealed two tumors of different origins, non-small cell lung cancer and a renal cell carcinoma.
The presence of a renal mass diagnosed on a CT scan in a patient with lung cancer is not always synonymous with metastatic disease. Confirmation of diagnosis by tissue sampling is mandatory, especially if a synchronous primary tumor is possible.
PMCID: PMC3975755  PMID: 24707259
Non-small cell lung cancer; Second opinion; Renal cell carcinoma; Diagnosis/treatment; Metastatic disease; Synchronous primary tumor
8.  Why Do Patients and Caregivers Seek Answers From the Internet and Online Lung Specialists? A Qualitative Study 
Since its launch in 2003, the Dutch Lung Cancer Information Center’s (DLIC) website has become increasingly popular. The most popular page of the website is the section “Ask the Physician”, where visitors can ask an online lung specialist questions anonymously and receive an answer quickly. Most questions were not only asked by lung cancer patients but also by their informal caregivers. Most questions concerned specific information about lung cancer.
Our goal was to explore the reasons why lung cancer patients and caregivers search the Internet for information and ask online lung specialists questions on the DLIC’s interactive page, “Ask the Physician”, rather than consulting with their own specialist.
This research consisted of a qualitative study with semistructured telephone interviews about medical information-seeking behavior (eg, information needs, reasons for querying online specialists). The sample comprised 5 lung cancer patients and 20 caregivers who posed a question on the interactive page of the DLIC website.
Respondents used the Internet and the DLIC website to look for lung cancer–related information (general/specific to their personal situation) and to cope with cancer. They tried to achieve a better understanding of the information given by their own specialist and wanted to be prepared for the treatment trajectory and disease course. This mode of information supply helped them cope and gave them emotional support. The interactive webpage was also used as a second opinion. The absence of face-to-face contact made respondents feel freer to ask for any kind of information. By being able to pose a question instantly and receiving a relatively quick reply from the online specialist to urgent questions, respondents felt an easing of their anxiety as they did not have to wait until the next consultation with their own specialist.
The DLIC website with its interactive page is a valuable complementary mode of information supply and supportive care for lung cancer patients and caregivers.
PMCID: PMC3936275  PMID: 24496139
lung cancer; patients; caregivers; website; online lung specialists; reasons; Internet; information needs; coping; qualitative
9.  Scheduling of anticancer drugs 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(23):4339-4343.
Many cancer patients are treated with a combination of anticancer drugs. Here, we discuss the importance of drug scheduling and the need for studies that investigate the optimal timing of the various anticancer drugs. Positron emission tomography (PET) using radiolabeled anticancer drugs could be an important tool for those studies.
PMCID: PMC3552916  PMID: 23032365
drug scheduling; oncology; anticancer drugs; positron emission tomography; radiolabeled drugs
10.  Pemetrexed Induced Thymidylate Synthase Inhibition in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients: A Pilot Study with 3′-Deoxy-3′-[18F]fluorothymidine Positron Emission Tomography 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63705.
Pemetrexed is a thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor and is effective in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). 3′-deoxy-3′-[18F]fluorothymidine (18F-FLT), a proliferation marker, could potentially identify tumor specific TS-inhibition. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of pemetrexed-induced TS-inhibition on 18F-FLT uptake 4 hours after pemetrexed administration in metastatic NSCLC patients.
Fourteen NSCLC patients underwent dynamic 18F-FLT positron emission tomography (PET) scans at baseline and 4 hours after the first dose of pemetrexed. Volumes of interest were defined with a 41%, 50% and 70% threshold of the maximum pixel. Kinetic analysis and simplified measures were performed. At one, two, four and six hours after pemetrexed, plasma deoxyuridine was measured as systemic indicator of TS-inhibition. Tumor response measured with response evaluation criteria in solid tumors (RECIST), time to progression (TTP) and overall survival (OS) were determined.
Eleven patients had evaluable 18F-FLT PET scans at baseline and 4 hours after pemetrexed. Two patients had increased 18F-FLT uptake of 35% and 31% after pemetrexed, whereas two other patients had decreased uptake of 31%. In the remaining seven patients 18F-FLT uptake did not change beyond test-retest borders. In all patients deoxyuridine levels raised after administration of pemetrexed, implicating pemetrexed-induced TS-inhibition. 18F-FLT uptake in bone marrow was significantly increased 4 hours after pemetrexed administration. Six weeks after the start of treatment 5 patients had partial response, 4 stable disease and 2 progressive disease. Median TTP was 4.2 months (range 3.0–7.4 months); median OS was 13.0 months (range 5.1–30.8 months). Changes in 18F-FLT uptake were not predictive for tumor response, TTP or OS.
Measuring TS-inhibition in a clinical setting 4 hours after pemetrexed revealed a non-systematic change in 18F-FLT uptake within the tumor. No significant association with tumor response, TTP or OS was observed.
PMCID: PMC3663749  PMID: 23717468
11.  The Role of Vitamin K in Soft-Tissue Calcification1 
Advances in Nutrition  2012;3(2):166-173.
Seventeen vitamin K–dependent proteins have been identified to date of which several are involved in regulating soft-tissue calcification. Osteocalcin, matrix Gla protein (MGP), and possibly Gla-rich protein are all inhibitors of soft-tissue calcification and need vitamin K–dependent carboxylation for activity. A common characteristic is their low molecular weight, and it has been postulated that their small size is essential for calcification inhibition within tissues. MGP is synthesized by vascular smooth muscle cells and is the most important inhibitor of arterial mineralization currently known. Remarkably, the extrahepatic Gla proteins mentioned are only partly carboxylated in the healthy adult population, suggesting vitamin K insufficiency. Because carboxylation of the most essential Gla proteins is localized in the liver and that of the less essential Gla proteins in the extrahepatic tissues, a transport system has evolved ensuring preferential distribution of dietary vitamin K to the liver when vitamin K is limiting. This is why the first signs of vitamin K insufficiency are seen as undercarboxylation of the extrahepatic Gla proteins. New conformation-specific assays for circulating uncarboxylated MGP were developed; an assay for desphospho-uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein and another assay for total uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein. Circulating desphospho-uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein was found to be predictive of cardiovascular risk and mortality, whereas circulating total uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein was associated with the extent of prevalent arterial calcification. Vitamin K intervention studies have shown that MGP carboxylation can be increased dose dependently, but thus far only 1 study with clinical endpoints has been completed. This study showed maintenance of vascular elasticity during a 3-y supplementation period, with a parallel 12% loss of elasticity in the placebo group. More studies, both in healthy subjects and in patients at risk of vascular calcification, are required before conclusions can be drawn.
PMCID: PMC3648717  PMID: 22516724
12.  Positron Emission Tomography as a Method for Measuring Drug Delivery to Tumors in vivo: The Example of [11C]docetaxel 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;3:208.
Systemic anticancer treatments fail in a substantial number of patients. This may be caused by inadequate uptake and penetration of drugs in malignant tumors. Consequently, improvement of drug delivery to solid tumors may enhance its efficacy. Before evaluating strategies to enhance drug uptake in tumors, better understanding of drug delivery to human tumors is needed. Positron emission tomography (PET) is an imaging technique that can be used to monitor drug pharmacokinetics non-invasively in patients, based on radiolabeling these drugs with short-lived positron emitters. In this mini review, principles and potential applications of PET using radiolabeled anticancer drugs will be discussed with respect to personalized treatment planning in oncology. In particular, it will be discussed how these radiolabeled anticancer drugs could help to develop strategies for improved drug delivery to solid tumors. The development and clinical implementation of PET using radiolabeled anticancer drugs will be illustrated by validation studies of carbon-11 labeled docetaxel ([11C]docetaxel) in lung cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3742054  PMID: 23986880
positron emission tomography; radiolabeled anticancer drugs; drug delivery; tumors; [11C]docetaxel; lung cancer
13.  Stepped care targeting psychological distress in head and neck and lung cancer patients: a randomized clinical trial 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:173.
Psychological distress is common in cancer survivors. Although there is some evidence on effectiveness of psychosocial care in distressed cancer patients, referral rate is low. Lack of adequate screening instruments in oncology settings and insufficient availability of traditional models of psychosocial care are the main barriers. A stepped care approach has the potential to improve the efficiency of psychosocial care. The aim of the study described herein is to evaluate efficacy of a stepped care strategy targeting psychological distress in cancer survivors.
The study is designed as a randomized clinical trial with 2 treatment arms: a stepped care intervention programme versus care as usual. Patients treated for head and neck cancer (HNC) or lung cancer (LC) are screened for distress using OncoQuest, a computerized touchscreen system. After stratification for tumour (HNC vs. LC) and stage (stage I/II vs. III/IV), 176 distressed patients are randomly assigned to the intervention or control group. Patients in the intervention group will follow a stepped care model with 4 evidence based steps: 1. Watchful waiting, 2. Guided self-help via Internet or a booklet, 3. Problem Solving Treatment administered by a specialized nurse, and 4. Specialized psychological intervention or antidepressant medication. In the control group, patients receive care as usual which most often is a single interview or referral to specialized intervention. Primary outcome is the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Secondary outcome measures are a clinical level of depression or anxiety (CIDI), quality of life (EQ-5D, EORTC QLQ-C30, QLQ-HN35, QLQ-LC13), patient satisfaction with care (EORTC QLQ-PATSAT), and costs (health care utilization and work loss (TIC-P and PRODISQ modules)). Outcomes are evaluated before and after intervention and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after intervention.
Stepped care is a system of delivering and monitoring treatments, such that effective, yet least resource-intensive, treatment is delivered to patients first. The main aim of a stepped care approach is to simplify the patient pathway, provide access to more patients and to improve patient well-being and cost reduction by directing, where appropriate, patients to low cost (self-)management before high cost specialist services.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3502336  PMID: 22574757
Cancer; Distress; Anxiety; Depression; Psychosocial care; Stepped care; Screening; Quality of life; Efficacy
14.  High Fat Diet-Induced Changes in Mouse Muscle Mitochondrial Phospholipids Do Not Impair Mitochondrial Respiration Despite Insulin Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27274.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus and muscle insulin resistance have been associated with reduced capacity of skeletal muscle mitochondria, possibly as a result of increased intake of dietary fat. Here, we examined the hypothesis that a prolonged high-fat diet consumption (HFD) increases the saturation of muscle mitochondrial membrane phospholipids causing impaired mitochondrial oxidative capacity and possibly insulin resistance.
C57BL/6J mice were fed an 8-week or 20-week low fat diet (10 kcal%; LFD) or HFD (45 kcal%). Skeletal muscle mitochondria were isolated and fatty acid (FA) composition of skeletal muscle mitochondrial phospholipids was analyzed by thin-layer chromatography followed by GC. High-resolution respirometry was used to assess oxidation of pyruvate and fatty acids by mitochondria. Insulin sensitivity was estimated by HOMA-IR.
Principal Findings
At 8 weeks, mono-unsaturated FA (16∶1n7, 18∶1n7 and 18∶1n9) were decreased (−4.0%, p<0.001), whereas saturated FA (16∶0) were increased (+3.2%, p<0.001) in phospholipids of HFD vs. LFD mitochondria. Interestingly, 20 weeks of HFD descreased mono-unsaturated FA while n-6 poly-unsaturated FA (18∶2n6, 20∶4n6, 22∶5n6) showed a pronounced increase (+4.0%, p<0.001). Despite increased saturation of muscle mitochondrial phospholipids after the 8-week HFD, mitochondrial oxidation of both pyruvate and fatty acids were similar between LFD and HFD mice. After 20 weeks of HFD, the increase in n-6 poly-unsaturated FA was accompanied by enhanced maximal capacity of the electron transport chain (+49%, p = 0.002) and a tendency for increased ADP-stimulated respiration, but only when fuelled by a lipid-derived substrate. Insulin sensitivity in HFD mice was reduced at both 8 and 20 weeks.
Our findings do not support the concept that prolonged HF feeding leads to increased saturation of skeletal muscle mitochondrial phospholipids resulting in a decrease in mitochondrial fat oxidative capacity and (muscle) insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3225362  PMID: 22140436
15.  The use of erlotinib in daily practice: a study on adherence and patients' experiences 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:284.
Adherence to pharmacological therapy is a complex and multi-factorial issue that can substantially alter the outcome of treatment. It has been shown that cancer patients, especially when using long-term medication, have similar adherence rates to those of patients with other diseases. The consequences of poor adherence are poor health outcomes and increased health care costs. Only few studies have focused on the use of oral anticancer agents in daily practice. Information about the reasons for non-adherence is essential for the development of interventions that may increase adherence. This paper presents the CAPER-erlotinib protocol, which is designed to study the relationship between adherence to erlotinib and both the plasma concentration and side-effects in patients with NSCLC. Further, the relationships between patient characteristics, disease characteristics, side-effects, quality of life, patient beliefs and attitude towards disease and medication, dose adjustments, reasons for discontinuation and plasma concentration of erlotinib will be explored.
In this prospective observational cohort study 65 NSCLC patients of 18 years or older starting treatment with erlotinib will be followed for a period up to 16 weeks. The main study parameters are adherence, the plasma concentration of erlotinib and the number and grade of side-effects. At baseline and on erlotinib treatment in weeks 3-4, 8-9, 12 and 15-16, patients will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. In weeks 3-4, 8-9 and 15-16 blood samples are collected, which will be analysed for plasma concentration of erlotinib. Adherence will be measured using a medication event monitoring system.
The present study aims to get more insight into patients' experiences with the use of erlotinib in daily practice and the various aspects that govern adherence. We hypothesize that side-effects play an important role in the way patients use erlotinib. We expect that the present study will provide valuable knowledge which will be useful for health care professionals to develop interventions to support patients. This approach will improve the adherence and persistence with the use of erlotinib in order to derive optimal benefit from the medication.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC3146940  PMID: 21722354
17.  Evaluation of a cumulative SUV-volume histogram method for parameterizing heterogeneous intratumoural FDG uptake in non-small cell lung cancer PET studies 
Standardized uptake values (SUV) are commonly used for quantification of whole-body [18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) studies. Changes in SUV following therapy, however, only provide a proper measure of response in case of homogeneous FDG uptake in the tumour. The purpose of this study was therefore to implement and characterize a method that enables quantification of heterogeneity in tumour FDG uptake.
Cumulative SUV-volume histograms (CSH), describing % of total tumour volume above % threshold of maximum SUV (SUVmax), were calculated. The area under a CSH curve (AUC) is a quantitative index of tumour uptake heterogeneity, with lower AUC corresponding to higher degrees of heterogeneity. Simulations of homogeneous and heterogeneous responses were performed to assess the value of AUC-CSH for measuring uptake and/or response heterogeneity. In addition, partial volume correction and image denoising was applied prior to calculating AUC-CSH. Finally, the method was applied to a number of human FDG scans.
Partial volume correction and noise reduction improved CSH curves. Both simulations and clinical examples showed that AUC-CSH values corresponded with level of tumour heterogeneity and/or heterogeneity in response. In contrast, this correspondence was not seen with SUVmax alone. The results indicate that the main advantage of AUC-CSH above other measures, such as 1/COV (coefficient of variation), is the possibility to measure or normalize AUC-CSH in different ways.
AUC-CSH might be used as a quantitative index of heterogeneity in tracer uptake. In response monitoring studies it can be used to address heterogeneity in response.
PMCID: PMC3151405  PMID: 21617975
Positron emission tomography (PET); Standardized uptake value (SUV); Intratumoural heterogeneity; Cumulative SUV-volume histogram (CSH); Intensity-volume histograms (IVH)
18.  Platelet-derived growth factor receptor-β and epidermal growth factor receptor in pulmonary vasculature of systemic sclerosis-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension versus idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension and pulmonary veno-occlusive disease: a case-control study 
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) complicated by pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) carries a poor prognosis, despite pulmonary vascular dilating therapy. Platelet-derived growth factor receptor-β (PDGFR-β) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are potential therapeutic targets for PAH because of their proliferative effects on vessel remodelling. To explore their role in SScPAH, we compared PDGFR- and EGFR-mmunoreactivity in lung tissue specimens from SScPAH. We compared staining patterns with idiopathic PAH (IPAH) and pulmonary veno-occlusive disease (PVOD), as SScPAH vasculopathy differs from IPAH and sometimes displays features of PVOD. Immunoreactivity patterns of phosphorylated PDGFR-β (pPDGFR-β) and the ligand PDGF-B were evaluated to provide more insight into the patterns of PDGFR-b activation.
Lung tissue specimens from five SScPAH, nine IPAH, six PVOD patients and five controls were examined. Immunoreactivity was scored for presence, distribution and intensity.
All SScPAH and three of nine IPAH cases (P = 0.03) showed PDGFR-β-immunoreactivity in small vessels (arterioles/venules); of five SScPAH vs. two of nine IPAH cases (P = 0.02) showed venous immunoreactivity. In small vessels, intensity was stronger in SScPAH vs. IPAH. No differences were found between SScPAH and PVOD. One of five normal controls demonstrated focally mild immunoreactivity. There were no differences in PDGF-ligand and pPDGFR-b-immunoreactivity between patient groups; however, pPDGFR-b-immunoreactivity tended to be more prevalent in SScPAH small vasculature compared to IPAH. Vascular EGFR-immunoreactivity was limited to arterial and arteriolar walls, without differences between groups. No immunoreactivity was observed in vasculature of normals.
PDGFR-β-immunoreactivity in SScPAH is more common and intense in small- and post-capillary vessels than in IPAH and does not differ from PVOD, fitting in with histomorphological distribution of vasculopathy. PDGFR-β immunoreactivity pattern is not paralleled by pPDGFR-β or PDGF-B patterns. PDGFR-β- and EGFR-immunoreactivity of pulmonary vessels distinguishes PAH patients from controls.
PMCID: PMC3132056  PMID: 21492463
19.  Measuring response to therapy using FDG PET: semi-quantitative and full kinetic analysis 
Imaging with positron emission tomography (PET) using 18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) plays an increasingly important role for response assessment in oncology. Several methods for quantifying FDG PET results exist. The goal of this study was to analyse and compare various semi-quantitative measures for response assessment with full kinetic analysis, specifically in assessment of novel therapies.
Baseline and response dynamic FDG studies from two different longitudinal studies (study A: seven subjects with lung cancer and study B: six subjects with gastrointestinal cancer) with targeted therapies were reviewed. Quantification of tumour uptake included full kinetic methods, i.e. nonlinear regression (NLR) and Patlak analyses, and simplified measures such as the simplified kinetic method (SKM) and standardized uptake value (SUV). An image-derived input function was used for NLR and Patlak analysis.
There were 18 and 9 lesions defined for two response monitoring studies (A and B). In all cases there was excellent correlation between Patlak- and NLR-derived response (R2 > 0.96). Percentage changes seen with SUV were significantly different from those seen with Patlak for both studies (p < 0.05). After correcting SUV for plasma glucose, SUV and Patlak responses became similar for study A, but large differences remained for study B. Further analysis revealed that differences in responses amongst methods in study B were primarily due to changes in the arterial input functions.
Use of simplified methods for assessment of drug efficacy or treatment response may provide different results than those seen with full kinetic analysis.
PMCID: PMC3070082  PMID: 21210109
FDG PET; SUV; Patlak; NLR; Response monitoring
20.  Characteristics of Interstitial Fibrosis and Inflammatory Cell Infiltration in Right Ventricles of Systemic Sclerosis-Associated Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension 
Objective. Systemic sclerosis-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (SScPAH) has a disturbed function of the right ventricle (RV) when compared to idiopathic PAH (IPAH). Systemic sclerosis may also affect the heart. We hypothesize that RV differences may occur at the level of interstitial inflammation and—fibrosis and compared inflammatory cell infiltrate and fibrosis between the RV of SScPAH, IPAH, and healthy controls. Methods. Paraffin-embedded tissue samples of RV and left ventricle (LV) from SScPAH (n = 5) and IPAH (n = 9) patients and controls (n = 4) were picrosirius red stained for detection of interstitial fibrosis, which was quantified semiautomatically. Neutrophilic granulocytes (MPO), macrophages (CD68), and lymphocytes (CD45) were immunohistochemically stained and only interstitial leukocytes were counted. Presence of epi- or endocardial inflammation, and of perivascular or intimal fibrosis of coronary arteries was assessed semiquantitatively (0–3: absent to extensive). Results. RV's of SScPAH showed significantly more inflammatory cells than of IPAH (cells/mm2, mean ± sd MPO 11 ± 3 versus 6 ± 1; CD68 11 ± 3 versus 6 ± 1; CD45 11 ± 1 versus 5 ± 1 , P < .05) and than of controls. RV interstitial fibrosis was similar in SScPAH and IPAH (4 ± 1 versus 5 ± 1%, P = .9), and did not differ from controls (5 ± 1%, P = .8). In 4 SScPAH and 5 IPAH RV's foci of replacement fibrosis were found. No differences were found on epi- or endocardial inflammation or on perivascular or intimal fibrosis of coronary arteries. Conclusion. SScPAH RVs display denser inflammatory infiltrates than IPAH, while they do not differ with respect to interstitial fibrosis. Whether increased inflammatory status is a contributor to altered RV function in SScPAH warrants further research.
PMCID: PMC2949592  PMID: 20936074
21.  Dynamic contrast-enhanced CT in patients treated with sorafenib and erlotinib for non-small cell lung cancer: a new method of monitoring treatment? 
European Radiology  2010;20(12):2890-2898.
We investigated the feasibility of serial dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography (DCE-CT) in patients with advanced/metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving anti-angiogenic (sorafenib) and anti-EGFR (erlotinib) treatment, and correlated tumour blood flow (BF) with treatment outcome.
DCE-CTs were performed at baseline and 3 and 6 weeks after starting treatment. Tumour BF, calculated with the maximum slope method, and percentage change were measured in 23 patients (14 male; median age 59 years). Tumour BF was compared at baseline and weeks 3 and 6; the relation with RECIST/Crabb response and progression-free survival (PFS) was assessed.
Mean tumour perfusion decreased from 39.2 ml/100 g/min at baseline to 15.1 ml/100 g/min at week 3 (p < 0.001) and 9.4 ml/100 g/min at week 6 (p < 0.001). Tumour perfusion was lower in RECIST and Crabb responders versus non-responders at week 3 (4.2 versus 17.7 ml/100 g/min, p = 0.03) and week 6 (0 versus 13.4 ml/100 g/min, p = 0.04). Patients with a decrease larger than the median at week 6 tended to have a longer PFS (7.1 versus 5.7 months, p = 0.06).
Serial DCE-CTs are feasible in patients with NSCLC and demonstrated a significant decrease in tumour BF following sorafenib/erlotinib therapy. Early changes in tumour BF correlated with objective response and showed a trend towards longer PFS.
PMCID: PMC2978316  PMID: 20625738
Dynamic contrast-enhanced CT; Erlotinib; Sorafenib; Non-small cell lung cancer; Tumour perfusion
22.  Biodistribution and radiation dosimetry of 11C-labelled docetaxel in cancer patients 
Docetaxel is an important chemotherapeutic agent used for the treatment of several cancer types. As radiolabelled anticancer agents provide a potential means for personalized treatment planning, docetaxel was labelled with the positron emitter 11C. Non-invasive measurements of [11C]docetaxel uptake in organs and tumours may provide additional information on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the drug docetaxel. The purpose of the present study was to determine the biodistribution and radiation absorbed dose of [11C]docetaxel in humans.
Biodistribution of [11C]docetaxel was measured in seven patients (five men and two women) with solid tumours using PET/CT. Venous blood samples were collected to measure activity in blood and plasma. Regions of interest (ROI) for various source organs were defined on PET (high [11C]docetaxel uptake) or CT (low [11C]docetaxel uptake). ROI data were used to generate time-activity curves and to calculate percentage injected dose and residence times. Radiation absorbed doses were calculated according to the MIRD method using OLINDA/EXM 1.0 software.
Gall bladder and liver demonstrated high [11C]docetaxel uptake, whilst uptake in brain and normal lung was low. The percentage injected dose at 1 h in the liver was 47 ± 9%. [11C]docetaxel was rapidly cleared from plasma and no radiolabelled metabolites were detected. [11C]docetaxel uptake in tumours was moderate and highly variable between tumours.
The effective dose of [11C]docetaxel was 4.7 µSv/MBq. As uptake in normal lung is low, [11C]docetaxel may be a promising tracer for tumours in the thoracic region.
PMCID: PMC2933032  PMID: 20508935
[11C]docetaxel; Biodistribution; Radiation dose; Cancer; PET/CT
23.  The embryonic genes Dkk3, Hoxd8, Hoxd9 and Tbx1 identify muscle types in a diet-independent and fiber-type unrelated way 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:176.
The mouse skeletal muscle is composed of four distinct fiber types that differ in contractile function, number of mitochondria and metabolism. Every muscle type has a specific composition and distribution of the four fiber types. To find novel genes involved in specifying muscle types, we used microarray analysis to compare the gastrocnemius with the quadriceps from mice fed a low fat diet (LFD) or high fat diet (HFD) for 8 weeks. Additional qPCR analysis were performed in the gastrocnemius, quadriceps and soleus muscle from mice fed an LFD or HFD for 20 weeks.
In mice fed the 8-week LFD 162 genes were differentially expressed in the gastrocnemius vs. the quadriceps. Genes with the strongest differences in expression were markers for oxidative fiber types (e.g. Tnni1) and genes which are known to be involved in embryogenesis (Dkk3, Hoxd8,Hoxd9 and Tbx1). Also Dkk2, Hoxa5, Hoxa10, Hoxc9, Hoxc10, Hoxc6 and Tbx15 were detectably, but not differentially expressed in adult muscle tissue. Expression of differentially expressed genes was not influenced by an 8-week or 20-week HFD. Comparing gastrocnemius, quadriceps and soleus, expression of Hoxd8 and Hoxd9 was not related with expression of markers for the four different fiber types. We found that the expression of both Hoxd8 and Hoxd9 was much higher in the gastrocnemius than in the quadriceps or soleus, whereas the expression of Dkk3 was high in quadriceps, but low in both gastrocnemius and soleus. Finally, expression of Tbx1 was high in quadriceps, intermediate in soleus and low in gastrocnemius.
We found that genes from the Dkk family, Hox family and Tbx family are detectably expressed in adult mouse muscle. Interestingly, expression of Dkk3, Hoxd8, Hoxd9 and Tbx1 was highly different between gastrocnemius, quadriceps and soleus. In fact, every muscle type showed a unique combination of expression of these four genes which was not influenced by diet. Altogether, we conclude that genes important for embryogenesis identify mouse muscle types in a diet-independent and fiber type-unrelated manner.
PMCID: PMC2847971  PMID: 20230627
24.  Angiogenesis inhibitors in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer 
A therapeutic plateau seems to have been reached with the standard treatment of cytotoxic chemotherapy alone for advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and new treatment options are urgently needed. Recent insight into the molecular biology of cancer has identified angiogenesis as one of the key biological processes. The major player in tumor angiogenesis is the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway. VEGF is expressed in the majority of NSCLC and overexpression is associated with a poor prognosis. The VEGF pathway can be inhibited in two main ways: targeting VEGF directly or inhibiting the VEGF receptors. The development of angiogenesis inhibitors has shown great promise in the treatment of NSCLC. Bevacizumab, an anti-VEGF antibody, has been approved for the treatment of advanced NSCLC and other drugs are undergoing phase III investigation. However, a number of unresolved issues remain. In this review, we discuss the main angiogenesis inhibitors in development for the treatment of NSCLC focusing on the VEGF pathway.
PMCID: PMC3125995  PMID: 21789115
angiogenesis inhibitors; non-small cell lung cancer; vascular endothelial growth factor; bevacizumab
25.  Adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) expression in human skeletal muscle is type I (oxidative) fiber specific 
Histochemistry and Cell Biology  2008;129(4):535-538.
Accumulation of triacylglycerol (TAG) and lipid intermediates in skeletal muscle plays an important role in the etiology of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Disturbances in skeletal muscle lipid turnover and lipolysis may contribute significantly to this. So far, knowledge on the regulation of muscle lipolysis is limited. Recently the identification of a new lipase was reported: adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL). ATGL deficient animals show significant lipid accumulation in skeletal muscle, which may indicate that ATGL plays a pivotal role in skeletal muscle lipolysis. However, until now, it is still unknown whether ATGL protein is expressed in human skeletal muscle. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether ATGL is expressed at the protein level in human skeletal muscle, and to examine whether its expression is fiber-type specific. To accomplish this, we established an imunohistochemical and immunofluorescent staining procedure to study ATGL protein expression in relation to fiber type in human vastus lateralis muscle of eight male subjects (BMI range: 21.0–34.5 kg/m2 and age: 38–59 years). In the present paper we report for the first time that ATGL protein is indeed expressed in human skeletal muscle. Moreover, ATGL is exclusively expressed in type I (oxidative) muscle fibers, suggesting a pivotal role for ATGL in intramuscular fatty acid handling, lipid storage and breakdown.
PMCID: PMC2668625  PMID: 18224330
ATGL;  Skeletal muscle; Fiber type; Obesity; Protein

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