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1.  Computer planned, image-guided combined resection and ablation for bilobar colorectal liver metastases 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(40):14992-14996.
For patients with extensive bilobar colorectal liver metastases (CRLM), initial surgery may not be feasible and a multimodal approach including microwave ablation (MWA) provides the only chance for prolonged survival. Intraoperative navigation systems may improve the accuracy of ablation and surgical resection of so-called “vanishing lesions”, ultimately improving patient outcome. Clinical application of intraoperative navigated liver surgery is illustrated in a patient undergoing combined resection/MWA for multiple, synchronous, bilobar CRLM. Regular follow-up with computed tomography (CT) allowed for temporal development of the ablation zones. Of the ten lesions detected in a preoperative CT scan, the largest lesion was resected and the others were ablated using an intraoperative navigation system. Twelve months post-surgery a new lesion (Seg IVa) was detected and treated by trans-arterial embolization. Nineteen months post-surgery new liver and lung metastases were detected and a palliative chemotherapy started. The patient passed away four years after initial diagnosis. For patients with extensive CRLM not treatable by standard surgery, navigated MWA/resection may provide excellent tumor control, improving longer-term survival. Intraoperative navigation systems provide precise, real-time information to the surgeon, aiding the decision-making process and substantially improving the accuracy of both ablation and resection. Regular follow-ups including 3D modeling allow for early discrimination between ablation zones and recurrent tumor lesions.
PMCID: PMC4209564  PMID: 25356061
Computer navigation; Colorectal liver metastases; Image-guidance; Microwave ablation; Tumor
2.  Bilateral chylothorax following neck dissection: a case report 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:311.
Chylothorax is an extremely rare but potentially life-threatening complication after radical neck dissection. We report the case of a bilateral chylothorax after total thyroidectomy and cervico-central and cervico-lateral lymphadenectomy for thyroid carcinoma.
Case presentation
A 40-year-old European woman underwent total thyroidectomy and neck dissection for papillary thyroid carcinoma. Postoperatively she developed dyspnoea and pleural effusion. A chylothorax was found and the initial conservative therapy was not successful. She had to be operated on again and the thoracic duct was legated.
The case presentation reports a very rare complication after total thyroidectomy and neck dissection, but it has to be kept in mind to prevent dangerous complications.
PMCID: PMC4036830  PMID: 24885488
Thyroidectomy; Neck dissection; Bilateral chylothorax
3.  A Retroperitoneal Bronchogenic Cyst Mimicking a Pancreatic or Adrenal Mass 
Case Reports in Gastroenterology  2013;7(3):428-432.
Retroperitoneal location of bronchogenic cysts is extremely rare. Most commonly they are encountered in the posterior mediastinum. Bronchogenic cysts arise from developmental aberrations of the tracheobronchial tree in the early embryologic period. We report a 42-year-old female patient with a retroperitoneal bronchogenic cyst in the left adrenal region. She was admitted to our hospital with epigastric pain and subsequently underwent CT of the abdomen. The examination revealed a mass related to the left adrenal gland. Endocrine tests for adrenal hypersecretion were negative. Because of the uncertain entity, laparoscopic adrenalectomy was performed. Pathological examination revealed a bronchogenic cyst in proximity to an inconspicuous left adrenal gland. Although very rare, bronchogenic cysts should be considered in the differential diagnosis of retroperitoneal cystic lesions and surgical resection pursued for symptom resolution and to establish a definitive histology.
PMCID: PMC3884166  PMID: 24403880
Retroperitoneal; Bronchogenic cyst; Embryology; Adrenal mass; Cystic tumor
4.  Colon cancer cells produce immunoregulatory glucocorticoids 
Oncoimmunology  2012;1(4):529-530.
Expression or release of immunosuppressive molecules may protect tumor cells from the recognition and destruction by the immune system. New findings indicate that colorectal tumors produce immunoregulatory glucocorticoids and thereby suppress immune cell activation. The nuclear receptor LRH-1 plays a critical role in the regulation of colorectal tumor proliferation and glucocorticoid synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3382911  PMID: 22754774
Immune evasion; apoptosis; colon cancer; glucocorticoids; liver receptor homolog-1; steroidogenesis
5.  Inhibition of SIRT1 Impairs the Accumulation and Transcriptional Activity of HIF-1α Protein under Hypoxic Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33433.
Sirtuins and hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIF) have well-established roles in regulating cellular responses to metabolic and oxidative stress. Recent reports have linked these two protein families by demonstrating that sirtuins can regulate the activity of HIF-1 and HIF-2. Here we investigated the role of SIRT1, a NAD+-dependent deacetylase, in the regulation of HIF-1 activity in hypoxic conditions. Our results show that in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines, hypoxia did not alter SIRT1 mRNA or protein expression, whereas it predictably led to the accumulation of HIF-1α and the up-regulation of its target genes. In hypoxic models in vitro and in in vivo models of systemic hypoxia and xenograft tumor growth, knockdown of SIRT1 protein with shRNA or inhibition of its activity with small molecule inhibitors impaired the accumulation of HIF-1α protein and the transcriptional increase of its target genes. In addition, endogenous SIRT1 and HIF-1α proteins co-immunoprecipitated and loss of SIRT1 activity led to a hyperacetylation of HIF-1α. Taken together, our data suggest that HIF-1α and SIRT1 proteins interact in HCC cells and that HIF-1α is a target of SIRT1 deacetylase activity. Moreover, SIRT1 is necessary for HIF-1α protein accumulation and activation of HIF-1 target genes under hypoxic conditions.
PMCID: PMC3316573  PMID: 22479397
6.  Continuous Administration of Sorafenib in Combination with Transarterial Chemoembolization in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Results of a Phase I Study 
The Oncologist  2010;15(11):1198-1204.
The safety and tolerability of a continuous regimen of sorafenib combined with transarterial chemoembolization are assessed. Continuous administration of sorafenib at a dose of 400 mg bid combined with TACE was tolerable.
Background and Aim.
It is unknown whether sorafenib can be combined with transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. This study assesses the safety and tolerability of a continuous regimen of sorafenib combined with TACE.
This was an open-label phase I study testing a continuous administration of sorafenib (dose escalation from 200 mg twice daily [bid] to 400 mg bid) starting 7 days prior to TACE with doxorubicin (50 mg).
Twenty-one patients were screened and 14 received sorafenib combined with TACE. Because there were no dose-limiting toxicities in the first three patients who received sorafenib at a dose of 200 mg bid, subsequent patients received 400 mg bid. Twenty-seven procedures were performed (median, two per patient) and two local therapy–related severe adverse events occurred. The median duration of sorafenib therapy was 246 days (range, 14–547 days). Sorafenib-related adverse events of grade ≥3 were hand–foot skin reaction (n = 3), weight loss (n = 2), diarrhea (n = 1), abdominal pain (n = 1), and thrombocytopenia (n = 3). After treatment with sorafenib and TACE, there was a significant decrease in the concentration of plasma vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from 93 ng/l to 67 ng/l.
Continuous administration of sorafenib at a dose of 400 mg bid combined with TACE was tolerable. The adverse event profile of this regimen was comparable with that of sorafenib monotherapy with the exception of thrombocytopenia, which may be more frequent. There were no increases in the circulating VEGF levels after TACE with this combined regimen. (Swiss Association for the Study of the Liver study number 25; trial identifier, NCT00478374).
PMCID: PMC3227910  PMID: 21036880
Chemoembolization; Liver cancer; Phase I; Safety; Sorafenib; VEGF
7.  Natural Killer T Cell Dysfunction in CD39-Null Mice Protects Against Concanavalin A–Induced Hepatitis 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2008;48(3):841-852.
Concanavalin A (Con A)–induced injury is an established natural killer T (NKT) cell–mediated model of inflammation that has been used in studies of immune liver disease. Extracellular nucleotides, such as adenosine triphosphate, are released by Con A–stimulated cells and bind to specific purinergic type 2 receptors to modulate immune activation responses. Levels of extracellular nucleotides are in turn closely regulated by ectonucleotidases, such as CD39/NTPDase1. Effects of extracellular nucleotides and CD39 on NKT cell activation and upon hepatic inflammation have been largely unexplored to date. Here, we show that NKT cells express both CD39 and CD73/ecto-5’-nucleotidase and can therefore generate adenosine from extracellular nucleotides, whereas natural killer cells do not express CD73. In vivo, mice null for CD39 are protected from Con A–induced liver injury and show substantively lower serum levels of interleukin-4 and interferon-γ when compared with matched wild-type mice. Numbers of hepatic NKT cells are significantly decreased in CD39 null mice after Con A administration. Hepatic NKT cells express most P2X and P2Y receptors; exceptions include P2X3 and P2Y11. Heightened levels of apoptosis of CD39 null NKT cells in vivo and in vitro appear to be driven by unimpeded activation of the P2X7 receptor.
CD39 and CD73 are novel phenotypic markers of NKT cells. Deletion of CD39 modulates nucleotide-mediated cytokine production by, and limits apoptosis of, hepatic NKT cells providing protection against Con A–induced hepatitis. This study illustrates a further role for purinergic signaling in NKT-mediated mechanisms that result in liver immune injury.
PMCID: PMC2929828  PMID: 18752325
8.  Deletion of CD39 on Natural Killer Cells Attenuates Hepatic Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury in Mice 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2010;51(5):1702-1711.
Natural killer (NK) cells play crucial roles in innate immunity and express CD39 (Ectonucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 1 [E-NTPD1]), a rate-limiting ectonucleotidase in the phosphohydrolysis of extracellular nucleotides to adenosine. We have studied the effects of CD39 gene deletion on NK cells in dictating outcomes after partial hepatic ischemia/reperfusion injury (IRI). We show in mice that gene deletion of CD39 is associated with marked decreases in phosphohydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and adenosine diphosphate to adenosine monophosphate on NK cells, thereby modulating the type-2 purinergic (P2) receptors demonstrated on these cells. We note that CD39-null mice are protected from acute vascular injury after single-lobe warm IRI, and, relative to control wild-type mice, display significantly less elevation of aminotransferases with less pronounced histopathological changes associated with IRI. Selective adoptive transfers of immune cells into Rag2/common gamma null mice (deficient in T cells, B cells, and NK/NKT cells) suggest that it is CD39 deletion on NK cells that provides end-organ protection, which is comparable to that seen in the absence of interferon gamma. Indeed, NK effector mechanisms such as interferon gamma secretion are inhibited by P2 receptor activation in vitro. Specifically, ATPγS (a nonhydrolyzable ATP analog) inhibits secretion of interferon gamma by NK cells in response to interleukin-12 and interleukin-18, providing a mechanistic link between CD39 deletion and altered cytokine secretion.
We propose that CD39 deficiency and changes in P2 receptor activation abrogate secretion of interferon gamma by NK cells in response to inflammatory mediators, thereby limiting tissue damage mediated by these innate immune cells during IRI.
PMCID: PMC2903010  PMID: 20146261
9.  Regulated Catalysis of Extracellular Nucleotides by Vascular CD39/ENTPD1 Is Required for Liver Regeneration 
Gastroenterology  2008;135(5):1751-1760.
Background & Aims
Little is known about how endothelial cells respond to injury, regulate hepatocyte turnover and reconstitute the hepatic vasculature. We aimed to determine the effects of the vascular ectonucleotidase CD39 on sinusoidal endothelial cell responses following partial hepatectomy and to dissect purinergic and growth factor interactions in this model.
Parameters of liver injury and regeneration, as well as the kinetics of hepatocellular and sinusoidal endothelial cell proliferation, were assessed following partial hepatectomy in mice that do not express CD39, that do not express ATP/UTP receptor P2Y2, and in controls. The effects of extracellular ATP on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and interleukin-6 responses were determined in vivo and in vitro. Phosphorylation of the endothelial VEGF receptor in response to extracellular nucleotides and growth factors was assessed in vitro.
After partial hepatectomy, expression of the vascular ectonucleotidase CD39 increased on sinusoidal endothelial cells. Targeted disruption of CD39 impaired hepatocellular regeneration, reduced angiogenesis, and increased hepatic injury, resulting in pronounced vascular endothelial apoptosis, and decreased survival. Decreased HGF release by sinusoidal endothelial cells, despite high levels of VEGF, reduced paracrine stimulation of hepatocytes. Failure of VEGF receptor-2/KDR transactivation by extracellular nucleotides on CD39-null endothelial cells was associated with P2Y2 receptor desensitization.
Regulated phosphohydrolysis of extracellular nucleotides by CD39 coordinates both hepatocyte and endothelial cell proliferation following partial hepatectomy. Lack of CD39 activity is associated with decreased hepatic regeneration and failure of vascular reconstitution.
PMCID: PMC2900919  PMID: 18804472
10.  Symptomatic Retroperitoneal Cyst: A Diagnostic Challenge 
Retroperitoneal cystic masses pose an important diagnostic and therapeutic challenge. Simple drainage, internal or external, is usually not sufficient. We report a case of a large symptomatic retroperitoneal cyst and its management.
PMCID: PMC2749355  PMID: 19317927
Retroperitoneal cyst; Management
11.  Idiopathic small-bowel intussusception in an adult 
PMCID: PMC2826481  PMID: 19969561
12.  Prognostic value of tumour endothelial markers in patients with endometrial cancer 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(1):203-207.
Endometrial cancer is one of the more frequent and most lethal gynaecological cancer types. Since it occurs more frequently in elderly and overweight patients, a pre-operative staging method would be beneficial. The growth of solid neoplasms is always accompanied by neovascularisation. Tumour endothelial markers (TEMs) are a group of recently described endothelial cell surface markers that appear to be specific to neoplastic tissue. This study aimed to investigate the potential usefulness of TEM assessment in the endometrium by comparing the transcriptional expression of TEMs in the normal endometrium with endometroid adenocarcinoma tissue. Tissues were lysed and the RNA was extracted, assessed and reverse transcribed in one batch. Real-time quantitative PCR was performed for TEM-1, -2, -6, -7, -7r and -8. GAPDH, β-actin and ribosomal protein L13A (RPL13A) were used as control genes. TEM-8 showed the highest expression level in all of the groups. TEM-1 showed higher expression levels in the normal endometrium than in the tumour tissues. For the remaining TEMs, we found a higher expression in the cancer samples than in the normal endometria. Statistical significance of this difference was achieved for TEM-1, -2 and-7. No clear correlation was noted between the tumour stage and the level of TEM-1, -6 and -8 expression. Apart from TEM-6, the highest expression in FIGO I cancer stages was noted in the remaining TEMs. Our results showed that for most of these tumour endothelial markers, gene expression was slightly higher in the endometrial carcinoma tissue samples than in the endometrium of normal cycling women. However, with the possible exception of TEM-8 and -6, absolute expression levels were generally low, indicating that most TEMs may only be specifically expressed in a restricted number of cancer types (e.g., colorectal). Therefore, TEMs may not be useful in the context of endometrial cancer.
PMCID: PMC3436417  PMID: 22966283
tumour endothelial markers; endometrium; endometrial cancer
13.  The accuracy of FAST in relation to grade of solid organ injuries: A retrospective analysis of 226 trauma patients with liver or splenic lesion 
This study investigated the role of a negative FAST in the diagnostic and therapeutic algorithm of multiply injured patients with liver or splenic lesions.
A retrospective analysis of 226 multiply injured patients with liver or splenic lesions treated at Bern University Hospital, Switzerland.
FAST failed to detect free fluid or organ lesions in 45 of 226 patients with spleen or liver injuries (sensitivity 80.1%). Overall specificity was 99.5%. The positive and negative predictive values were 99.4% and 83.3%. The overall likelihood ratios for a positive and negative FAST were 160.2 and 0.2. Grade III-V organ lesions were detected more frequently than grade I and II lesions. Without the additional diagnostic accuracy of a CT scan, the mean ISS of the FAST-false-negative patients would be significantly underestimated and 7 previously unsuspected intra-abdominal injuries would have been missed.
FAST is an expedient tool for the primary assessment of polytraumatized patients to rule out high grade intra-abdominal injuries. However, the low overall diagnostic sensitivity of FAST may lead to underestimated injury patterns and delayed complications may occur. Hence, in hemodynamically stable patients with abdominal trauma, an early CT scan should be considered and one must be aware of the potential shortcomings of a "negative FAST".
PMCID: PMC2667168  PMID: 19323813
14.  Human Alveolar Echinococcosis after Fox Population Increase, Switzerland 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2007;13(6):878-882.
An increase in fox population has led to an increase in incidence of human alveolar echinococcosis.
We analyzed databases spanning 50 years, which included retrospective alveolar echinococcosis (AE) case-finding studies and databases of the 3 major centers for treatment of AE in Switzerland. A total of 494 cases were recorded. Annual incidence of AE per 100,000 population increased from 0.12– 0.15 during 1956–1992 and a mean of 0.10 during 1993–2000 to a mean of 0.26 during 2001–2005. Because the clinical stage of the disease did not change between observation periods, this increase cannot be explained by improved diagnosis. Swiss hunting statistics suggested that the fox population increased 4-fold from 1980 through 1995 and has persisted at these higher levels. Because the period between infection and development of clinical disease is long, the increase in the fox population and high Echinococcus multilocularis prevalence rates in foxes in rural and urban areas may have resulted in an emerging epidemic of AE 10–15 years later.
PMCID: PMC2792858  PMID: 17553227
Alveolar echinococcosis; Echinococcus multilocularis; epidemiology; fox (Vulpes vulpes); zoonosis; incidence; Switzerland; research
15.  Loss of ATP Diphosphohydrolase Activity with Endothelial Cell Activation 
Quiescent endothelial cells (EC) regulate blood flow and prevent intravascular thrombosis. This latter effect is mediated in a number of ways, including expression by EC of thrombomodulin and heparan sulfate, both of which are lost from the EC surface as part of the activation response to proinflammatory cytokines. Loss of these anticoagulant molecules potentiates the procoagulant properties of the injured vasculature. An additional thromboregulatory factor, ATP diphosphohydrolase (ATPDase; designated as EC is also expressed by quiescent EC, and has the capacity to degrade the extracellular inflammatory mediators ATP and ADP to AMP, thereby inhibiting platelet activation and modulating vascular thrombosis. We describe here that the antithrombotic effects of the ATPDase, like heparan sulfate and thrombomodulin, are lost after EC activation, both in vitro and in vivo. Because platelet activation and aggregation are important components of the hemostatic changes that accompany inflammatory diseases, we suggest that the loss of vascular ATPDase may be crucial for the progression of vascular injury.
PMCID: PMC2196106  PMID: 8996251

Results 1-15 (15)