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Free access

Jacqueline Trouillas, Pia Burman, Ann McCormack, Stephan Petersenn, Vera Popovic, Olaf Dekkers, and Gerald Raverot

The European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) survey reported on the largest cohort of 125 aggressive pituitary tumours (APT) and 40 pituitary carcinomas (PC). Whilst the survey focused on treatment effectiveness, all pathological data were not explored in detail. Here, we comment on some interesting pathological findings, notably the difference between APT and PC.

Free access

Anna Stroud, John Zhang, and Ann McCormack

Objective

The diagnosis of Cushing’s disease (CD) is particularly challenging in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) due to abnormalities of the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis associated with the latter. This case report presents discrepant biochemical findings in a patient with CKD who was subsequently diagnosed with CD, and outlines principles which may guide the definitive diagnosis of CD in this context.

Methods

The case of a patient with Stage 4 CKD who underwent transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary-dependent CD is presented. A literature review was conducted to identify similar cases and characterise features of hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal axis dysfunction in CKD.

Results

The patient discussed herein presented with markedly elevated plasma adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) due to a pituitary macroadenoma, with normal 24-h urine free cortisol (24-UFC) but abnormal overnight dexamethasone suppression testing and elevated midnight salivary cortisol. He experienced biochemical remission after undergoing transsphenoidal adenomectomy. A literature review revealed that CKD can be associated with elevated serum cortisol, reduced UFC and elevated plasma ACTH. Only four other cases of CD being diagnosed in a patient with CKD have been published. The loss of a circadian rhythm of cortisol secretion was the most common feature among all cases.

Conclusions

To establish a definitive diagnosis of CD in the context of pre-existing CKD, the absence of circadian rhythms of cortisol and ACTH is a more sensitive indicator than 24-UFC and low-dose dexamethasone suppression testing.

Free access

Nèle F Lenders, Ann I McCormack, and Ken K Y Ho

Gonadal steroids modulate the effects of GH, with oestrogens attenuating and androgens augmenting GH action. Whether these divergent effects influence the clinical manifestation, management and prognosis of acromegaly have not been carefully reviewed. This review examines whether there is a gender difference in epidemiology, presentation, quality of life (QoL), morbidity, treatments and mortality of acromegaly. Acromegaly is more common in women who present at an older age with longer diagnostic delay. At presentation, women have a higher GH relative to IGF-1 level than men. QoL is more adversely affected in women both before and after treatment. Prevalence of hypertension and diabetes are greater in women than in men with acromegaly. Treatment outcomes with SSAs are comparable between sexes, but women may require a higher dose of pegvisomant for equivalent response. Mortality in untreated acromegaly is more profoundly affected in women; however, improved treatments in recent decades have resulted in normalisation of standard mortality ratios in both sexes. We conclude that gender does matter in the management of acromegaly, with women presenting later in life, with greater diagnostic delay, higher prevalence of comorbidities and experiencing worse QoL.

Free access

Marco Losa, Elena Mazza, Maria Rosa Terreni, Ann McCormack, Anthony J Gill, Micaela Motta, Maria Giulia Cangi, Anna Talarico, Pietro Mortini, and Michele Reni

Objective

The prognosis of either pituitary carcinoma or aggressive pituitary adenoma resistant to standard therapies is poor. We assessed the efficacy of treatment with temozolomide, an oral second-generation alkylating agent, in a consecutive series of six patients with aggressive pituitary adenomas.

Design

This was a 1-year prospective study of temozolomide therapy in six consecutive patients with pituitary carcinoma (one case) or atypical pituitary adenoma (five cases) resistant to standard therapies. There were three males and three females. Age at enrollment ranged between 52 and 64 years. Temozolomide was given orally at a dose of 150–200 mg/m2 per day for 5 days every 4 weeks for a maximum of 12 cycles.

Methods

Response assessment was based on measurable change in tumor size, as assessed on magnetic resonance imaging, and hormone levels. Response was defined as reduction of at least 50% of tumor size and hormone levels.

Results

Four patients completed the 12 cycles of temozolomide treatment, as planned. Two patients stopped the drug after 3 and 6 months respectively because of the progression of disease. Two patients responded to temozolomide, while the remaining two patients had stable disease. Immunohistochemistry for O 6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) in tumor sample showed a partial association with treatment response.

Conclusions

Temozolomide treatment has a wide range of efficacy in patients with pituitary carcinoma or locally aggressive pituitary adenoma. Positive staining for MGMT seems likely to predict a lower chance of response.

Free access

Gerald Raverot, Pia Burman, Ann McCormack, Anthony Heaney, Stephan Petersenn, Vera Popovic, Jacqueline Trouillas, Olaf M Dekkers, and The European Society of Endocrinology

Background

Pituitary tumours are common and easily treated by surgery or medical treatment in most cases. However, a small subset of pituitary tumours does not respond to standard medical treatment and presents with multiple local recurrences (aggressive pituitary tumours) and in rare occasion with metastases (pituitary carcinoma). The present European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) guideline aims to provide clinical guidance on diagnosis, treatment and follow-up in aggressive pituitary tumours and carcinomas.

Methods

We decided upfront, while acknowledging that literature on aggressive pituitary tumours and carcinomas is scarce, to systematically review the literature according to the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system. The review focused primarily on first- and second-line treatment in aggressive pituitary tumours and carcinomas. We included 14 single-arm cohort studies (total number of patients = 116) most on temozolomide treatment (n = 11 studies, total number of patients = 106). A positive treatment effect was seen in 47% (95% CI: 36–58%) of temozolomide treated. Data from the recently performed ESE survey on aggressive pituitary tumours and carcinomas (165 patients) were also used as backbone for the guideline.

Selected recommendation

(i) Patients with aggressive pituitary tumours should be managed by a multidisciplinary expert team. (ii) Histopathological analyses including pituitary hormones and proliferative markers are needed for correct tumour classification. (iii) Temozolomide monotherapy is the first-line chemotherapy for aggressive pituitary tumours and pituitary carcinomas after failure of standard therapies; treatment evaluation after 3 cycles allows identification of responder and non-responder patients. (iv) In patients responding to first-line temozolomide, we suggest continuing treatment for at least 6 months in total. Furthermore, the guideline offers recommendations for patients who recurred after temozolomide treatment, for those who did not respond to temozolomide and for patients with systemic metastasis.

Free access

Sunita M C De Sousa, Mark J McCabe, Kathy Wu, Tony Roscioli, Velimir Gayevskiy, Katelyn Brook, Lesley Rawlings, Hamish S Scott, Tanya J Thompson, Peter Earls, Anthony J Gill, Mark J Cowley, Marcel E Dinger, and Ann I McCormack

Objective

Familial pituitary tumour syndromes (FPTS) account for 5% of pituitary adenomas. Multi-gene analysis via next-generation sequencing (NGS) may unveil greater prevalence and inform clinical care. We aimed to identify germline variants in selected patients with pituitary adenomas using a targeted NGS panel.

Design

We undertook a nationwide cross-sectional study of patients with pituitary adenomas with onset ≤40 years of age and/or other personal/family history of endocrine neoplasia. A custom NGS panel was performed on germline DNA to interrogate eight FPTS genes. Genome data were analysed via a custom bioinformatic pipeline, and validation was performed by Sanger sequencing. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) was performed in cases with heightened suspicion for MEN1, CDKN1B and AIP mutations. The main outcomes were frequency and pathogenicity of rare variants in AIP, CDKN1B, MEN1, PRKAR1A, SDHA, SDHB, SDHC and SDHD.

Results

Forty-four patients with pituitary tumours, 14 of whom had a personal history of other endocrine tumours and/or a family history of pituitary or other endocrine tumours, were referred from endocrine tertiary-referral centres across Australia. Eleven patients (25%) had a rare variant across the eight FPTS genes tested: AIP (p.A299V, p.R106C, p.F269F, p.R304X, p.K156K, p.R271W), MEN1 (p.R176Q), SDHB (p.A2V, p.S8S), SDHC (p.E110Q) and SDHD (p.G12S), with two patients harbouring dual variants. Variants were classified as pathogenic or of uncertain significance in 9/44 patients (20%). No deletions/duplications were identified in MEN1, CDKN1B or AIP.

Conclusions

A high yield of rare variants in genes implicated in FPTS can be found in selected patients using an NGS panel. It may also identify individuals harbouring more than one rare variant.

Free access

Nèle F Lenders, Adam C Wilkinson, Stephen J Wong, Tint T Shein, Richard J Harvey, Warrick J Inder, Peter E Earls, and Ann I McCormack

Objective

The clinical utility and prognostic value of WHO 2017 lineage-based classification of pituitary tumours have not been assessed. This study aimed to (1) determine the clinical utility of transcription factor analysis for classification of pituitary tumours and (2) determine the prognostic value of improved lineage-based classification of pituitary tumours.

Methods

This was a retrospective evaluation of patients who underwent surgical resection of pituitary tumours at St Vincent’s Public and Private Hospitals, Sydney, Australia between 1990 and 2016. Included patients were at least 18 years of age and had complete histopathological data, forming the 'histological cohort'. Patients with at least 12 months of post-surgical follow-up were included in the subgroup 'clinical cohort'. The diagnostic efficacy of transcription factor immunohistochemistry in conjunction with hormone immunohistochemistry was compared with hormone immunohistochemistry alone. The prognostic value of identifying 'higher-risk' histological subtypes was assessed.

Results

There were 171 patient tumour samples analyzed in the histological cohort. Of these, there were 95 patients forming the clinical cohort. Subtype diagnosis was changed in 20/171 (12%) of tumours. Within the clinical cohort, there were 21/95 (22%) patients identified with higher-risk histological subtype tumours. These were associated with tumour invasiveness (P = 0.050), early recurrence (12–24 months, P = 0.013), shorter median time to recurrence (49 (IQR: 22.5–73.0) vs 15 (IQR: 12.0–25.0) months, P = 0.005) and reduced recurrence-free survival (P = 0.031).

Conclusions

Application of transcription factor analysis, in addition to hormone immunohistochemistry, allows for refined pituitary tumour classification and may facilitate an improved approach to prognostication.

Open access

Peter J Trainer, John D C Newell-Price, John Ayuk, Simon J B Aylwin, Aled Rees, William Drake, Philippe Chanson, Thierry Brue, Susan M Webb, Carmen Fajardo, Javier Aller, Ann I McCormack, David J Torpy, George Tachas, Lynne Atley, David Ryder, and Martin Bidlingmaier

Objective

ATL1103 is a second-generation antisense oligomer targeting the human growth hormone (GH) receptor. This phase 2 randomised, open-label, parallel-group study assessed the potential of ATL1103 as a treatment for acromegaly.

Design

Twenty-six patients with active acromegaly (IGF-I >130% upper limit of normal) were randomised to subcutaneous ATL1103 200 mg either once or twice weekly for 13 weeks and monitored for a further 8-week washout period.

Methods

The primary efficacy measures were change in IGF-I at week 14, compared to baseline and between cohorts. For secondary endpoints (IGFBP3, acid labile subunit (ALS), GH, growth hormone-binding protein (GHBP)), comparison was between baseline and week 14. Safety was assessed by reported adverse events.

Results and conclusions

Baseline median IGF-I was 447 and 649 ng/mL in the once- and twice-weekly groups respectively. Compared to baseline, at week 14, twice-weekly ATL1103 resulted in a median fall in IGF-I of 27.8% (P = 0.0002). Between cohort comparison at week 14 demonstrated the median fall in IGF-I to be 25.8% (P = 0.0012) greater with twice-weekly dosing. In the twice-weekly cohort, IGF-I was still declining at week 14, and remained lower at week 21 than at baseline by a median of 18.7% (P = 0.0005). Compared to baseline, by week 14, IGFBP3 and ALS had declined by a median of 8.9% (P = 0.027) and 16.7% (P = 0.017) with twice-weekly ATL1103; GH had increased by a median of 46% at week 14 (P = 0.001). IGFBP3, ALS and GH did not change with weekly ATL1103. GHBP fell by a median of 23.6% and 48.8% in the once- and twice-weekly cohorts (P = 0.027 and P = 0.005) respectively. ATL1103 was well tolerated, although 84.6% of patients experienced mild-to-moderate injection-site reactions. This study provides proof of concept that ATL1103 is able to significantly lower IGF-I in patients with acromegaly.

Open access

Pia Burman, Jacqueline Trouillas, Marco Losa, Ann McCormack, Stephan Petersenn, Vera Popovic, Marily Theodoropoulou, Gerald Raverot, Olaf M Dekkers, and

Objective

To describe clinical and pathological characteristics and treatment outcomes in a large cohort of aggressive pituitary tumours (APT)/pituitary carcinomas (PC).

Design

Electronic survey August 2020–May 2021.

Results

96% of 171 (121 APT, 50 PC), initially presented as macro/giant tumours, 6 were microadenomas (5 corticotroph). Ninety-seven tumours, initially considered clinically benign, demonstrated aggressive behaviour after 5.5 years (IQR: 2.8–12). Of the patients, 63% were men. Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)-secreting tumours constituted 30% of the APT/PC, and the gonadotroph subtypes were under-represented. Five out of 13 silent corticotroph tumours and 2/6 silent somatotroph tumours became secreting. Metastases were observed after median 6.3 years (IQR 3.7–12.1) from diagnosis. At the first surgery, the Ki67 index was ≥3% in 74/93 (80%) and ≥10% in 38/93 (41%) tumours. An absolute increase of Ki67 ≥ 10% after median of 6 years from the first surgery occurred in 18/49 examined tumours. Tumours with an aggressive course from outset had higher Ki67, mitotic counts, and p53. Temozolomide treatment in 156/171 patients resulted in complete response in 9.6%, partial response in 30.1%, stable disease in 28.1%, and progressive disease in 32.2% of the patients. Treatment with bevacizumab, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and peptide receptor radionuclide therapy resulted in partial regression in 1/10, 1/6, and 3/11, respectively. Median survival in APT and PC was 17.2 and 11.3 years, respectively. Tumours with Ki67 ≥ 10% and ACTH-secretion were associated with worse prognosis.

Conclusion

APT/PCs exhibit a wide and challenging spectrum of behaviour. Temozolomide is the first-line chemotherapy, and other oncological therapies are emerging. Treatment response continues to be difficult to predict with currently studied biomarkers.

Free access

Ann McCormack, Olaf M Dekkers, Stephan Petersenn, Vera Popovic, Jacqueline Trouillas, Gerald Raverot, Pia Burman, and ESE survey collaborators

Objective

To collect outcome data in a large cohort of patients with aggressive pituitary tumours (APT)/carcinomas (PC) and specifically report effects of temozolomide (TMZ) treatment.

Design

Electronic survey to ESE members Dec 2015–Nov 2016.

Results

Reports on 166 patients (40 PC, 125 APT, 1 unclassified) were obtained. Median age at diagnosis was 43 (range 4–79) years. 69% of the tumours were clinically functioning, and the most frequent immunohistochemical subtype were corticotroph tumours (45%). Ki-67 index did not distinguish APT from PC, median 7% and 10% respectively. TMZ was first-line chemotherapy in 157 patients. At the end of the treatment (median 9 cycles), radiological evaluation showed complete response (CR) in 6%, partial response (PR) in 31%, stable disease (SD) in 33% and progressive disease in 30%. Response was more frequent in patients receiving concomitant radiotherapy and TMZ. CR was seen only in patients with low MGMT expression. Clinically functioning tumours were more likely to respond than non-functioning tumours, independent of MGMT status. Of patients with CR, PR and SD, 25, 40 and 48% respectively progressed after a median of 12-month follow-up. Other oncological drugs given as primary treatment and to TMZ failures resulted in PR in 20%.

Conclusion

This survey confirms that TMZ is established as first-line chemotherapeutic treatment of APT/PC. Clinically functioning tumours, low MGMT and concurrent radiotherapy were associated with a better response. The limited long-term effect of TMZ and the poor efficacy of other drugs highlight the need to identify additional effective therapies.