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  • Author: Constantine A Stratakis x
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Ricardo Correa, Paraskevi Salpea and Constantine A Stratakis

Carney complex (CNC) is a rare autosomal dominant syndrome, characterized by pigmented lesions of the skin and mucosa, cardiac, cutaneous and other myxomas and multiple endocrine tumors. The disease is caused by inactivating mutations or large deletions of the PRKAR1A gene located at 17q22–24 coding for the regulatory subunit type I alpha of protein kinase A (PKA) gene. Most recently, components of the complex have been associated with defects of other PKA subunits, such as the catalytic subunits PRKACA (adrenal hyperplasia) and PRKACB (pigmented spots, myxomas, pituitary adenomas). In this report, we review CNC, its clinical features, diagnosis, treatment and molecular etiology, including PRKAR1A mutations and the newest on PRKACA and PRKACB defects especially as they pertain to adrenal tumors and Cushing's syndrome.

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Eirini I Bimpaki, Maria Nesterova and Constantine A Stratakis

Context

Bilateral adrenal hyperplasias (BAHs) may be caused by mutations of genes that code for molecules that participate in cAMP signaling. Little is known about cAMP signaling in adrenal lesions associated with ACTH-independent Cushing syndrome (AICS) that do not harbor mutations in known genes.

Objective

We assessed the cAMP-signaling pathway by enzymatic and molecular studies.

Design

Samples from 27 patients (ages 5–60 years) were studied and compared with normal adrenocortical tissue (n=4) and aldosterone-producing adenomas (APA, n=5). All samples were sequenced for GNAS, PRKAR1A, PDE11A, and PDE8B sequencing defects. cAMP levels and binding, protein kinase A, and phosphodiesterase (PDE) activities were assayed. Immunohistochemistry was used for certain studies and the phosphorylation status of CREB was studied.

Patients

A total of 36 samples from patients were used.

Results

Cortisol-producing adenomas (CPAs) and other lesions that were GNAS, PRKAR1A, PDE11A, and PDE8B gene mutation-negative were compared with PRKAR1A mutation-positive lesions, normal tissue, and APAs; abnormalities of the cAMP-signaling pathway were found in both BAHs and CPAs. Interestingly, mutation-negative CPAs had significantly decreased PDE activity.

Conclusion

Lesions of the adrenal associated with AICS, independently of their GNAS, PRKAR1A, PDE11A, and PDE8B mutation status, have functional abnormalities of cAMP signaling. It is probable that epigenetic events or additional defects of genes involved in this pathway are responsible for this phenomenon.

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Natasha Ironside, Gregoire Chatain, David Asuzu, Sarah Benzo, Maya Lodish, Susmeeta Sharma, Lynnette Nieman, Constantine A Stratakis, Russell R Lonser and Prashant Chittiboina

Context

Achievement of hypocortisolemia following transsphenoidal surgery (TSS) for Cushing’s disease (CD) is associated with successful adenoma resection. However, up to one-third of these patients recur.

Objective

We assessed whether delay in reaching post-operative cortisol nadir may delineate patients at risk of recurrence for CD following TSS.

Methods

A retrospective review of 257 patients who received 291 TSS procedures for CD at NIH, between 2003 and 2016. Early biochemical remission (serum cortisol nadir <5 μg/dL) was confirmed with endocrinological and clinical follow-up. Recurrence was detected by laboratory testing, clinical stigmata or medication dependence during a median follow-up of 11 months.

Results

Of the 268 unique admissions, remission was recorded in 241 instances. Recurrence was observed in 9% of these cases with cortisol nadir ≤5 μg/dL and 6% of cases with cortisol nadir ≤2 μg/dL. The timing of hypocortisolemia was critical in detecting late recurrences. Morning POD-1 cortisol <3.3 μg/dL was 100% sensitive in predicting durable remission and morning POD-3 cortisol ≥18.5 μg/dL was 98.6% specific in predicting remote recurrence. AUROC analysis revealed that hypocortisolemia ≤5 µg/dL before 15 h (post-operative) had 95% sensitivity and an NPV of 0.98 for durable remission. Serum cortisol level ≤2 µg/dL, when achieved before 21 h, improved sensitivity to 100%.

Conclusions

In our cohort, early, profound hypocortisolemia could be used as a clinical prediction tool for durable remission. Achievement of hypocortisolemia ≤2 µg/dL before 21 post-operative hours appeared to accurately predict durable remission in the intermediate term.

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Ricardo Correa, Mihail Zilbermint, Annabel Berthon, Stephanie Espiard, Maria Batsis, Georgios Z Papadakis, Paraskevi Xekouki, Maya B Lodish, Jerome Bertherat, Fabio R Faucz and Constantine A Stratakis

Objective

Primary macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (PMAH) is a rare type of Cushing's syndrome (CS) that results in increased cortisol production and bilateral enlargement of the adrenal glands. Recent work showed that the disease may be caused by germline and somatic mutations in the ARMC5 gene, a likely tumor suppressor gene (TSG). We investigated 20 different adrenal nodules from one patient with PMAH for ARMC5 somatic sequence changes.

Design

All of the nodules were obtained from a single patient who underwent bilateral adrenalectomy. DNA was extracted by standard protocol and the ARMC5 sequence was determined by the Sanger method.

Results

Sixteen of 20 adrenocortical nodules harbored, in addition to what appeared to be the germline mutation, a second somatic variant. The p.Trp476* sequence change was present in all 20 nodules, as well as in normal tissue from the adrenal capsule, identifying it as the germline defect; each of the 16 other variants were found in different nodules: six were frame shift, four were missense, three were nonsense, and one was a splice site variation. Allelic losses were confirmed in two of the nodules.

Conclusion

This is the most genetic variance of the AR MC5 gene ever described in a single patient with PMAH: each of 16 adrenocortical nodules had a second new, ‘private,’ and – in most cases – completely inactivating ARMC5 defect, in addition to the germline mutation. The data support the notion that ARMC5 is a TSG that needs a second, somatic hit, to mediate tumorigenesis leading to polyclonal nodularity; however, the driver of this extensive genetic variance of the second ARMC5 allele in adrenocortical tissue in the context of a germline defect and PMAH remains a mystery.

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Johannes Hofland, Wouter W de Herder, Lieke Derks, Leo J Hofland, Peter M van Koetsveld, Ronald R de Krijger, Francien H van Nederveen, Anelia Horvath, Constantine A Stratakis, Frank H de Jong and Richard A Feelders

Context

Primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease (PPNAD) can lead to steroid hormone overproduction. Mutations in the cAMP protein kinase A regulatory subunit type 1A (PRKAR1A) are causative of PPNAD. Steroidogenesis in PPNAD can be modified through a local glucocorticoid feed-forward loop.

Objective

Investigation of regulation of steroidogenesis in a case of PPNAD with virilization.

Materials and methods

A 33-year-old woman presented with primary infertility due to hyperandrogenism. Elevated levels of testosterone and subclinical ACTH-independent Cushing's syndrome led to the discovery of an adrenal tumor, which was diagnosed as PPNAD. In vivo evaluation of aberrantly expressed hormone receptors showed no steroid response to known stimuli. Genetic analysis revealed a PRKAR1A protein-truncating Q28X mutation. After adrenalectomy, steroid levels normalized. Tumor cells were cultured and steroidogenic responses to ACTH and dexamethasone were measured and compared with those in normal adrenal and adrenocortical carcinoma cells. Expression levels of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17β-HSD) types 3 and 5 and steroid receptors were quantified in PPNAD, normal adrenal, and adrenal adenoma tissues.

Results

Isolated PPNAD cells, analogous to normal adrenal cells, showed both increased steroidogenic enzyme expression and steroid secretion in response to ACTH. Dexamethasone did not affect steroid production in the investigated types of adrenal cells. 17β-HSD type 5 was expressed at a higher level in the PPNAD-associated adenoma compared with control adrenal tissue.

Conclusion

PPNAD-associated adenomas can cause virilization and infertility by adrenal androgen overproduction. This may be due to steroidogenic control mechanisms that differ from those described for PPNAD without large adenomas.

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Maya B Lodish, Bo Yuan, Isaac Levy, Glenn D Braunstein, Charalampos Lyssikatos, Paraskevi Salpea, Eva Szarek, Alexander S Karageorgiadis, Elena Belyavskaya, Margarita Raygada, Fabio Rueda Faucz, Louise Izatt, Caroline Brain, James Gardner, Martha Quezado, J Aidan Carney, James R Lupski and Constantine A Stratakis

Objective

We have recently reported five patients with bilateral adrenocortical hyperplasia (BAH) and Cushing's syndrome (CS) caused by constitutive activation of the catalytic subunit of protein kinase A (PRKACA). By doing new in-depth analysis of their cytogenetic abnormality, we attempted a better genotype–phenotype correlation of their PRKACA amplification.

Design

This study is a case series.

Methods

Molecular cytogenetic, genomic, clinical, and histopathological analyses were performed in five patients with CS.

Results

Reinvestigation of the defects of previously described patients by state-of-the-art molecular cytogenetics showed complex genomic rearrangements in the chromosome 19p13.2p13.12 locus, resulting in copy number gains encompassing the entire PRKACA gene; three patients (one sporadic case and two related cases) were observed with gains consistent with duplications, while two sporadic patients were observed with gains consistent with triplications. Although all five patients presented with ACTH-independent CS, the three sporadic patients had micronodular BAH and underwent bilateral adrenalectomy in early childhood, whereas the two related patients, a mother and a son, presented with macronodular BAH as adults. In at least one patient, PRKACA triplication was associated with a more severe phenotype.

Conclusions

Constitutional chromosomal PRKACA gene amplification is a recently identified genetic defect associated with CS, a trait that may be inherited in an autosomal dominant manner or occur de novo. Genomic rearrangements can be complex and can result in different copy number states of dosage-sensitive genes, e.g., duplication and triplication. PRKACA amplification can lead to variable phenotypes clinically and pathologically, both micro- and macro-nodular BAH, the latter of which we speculate may depend on the extent of amplification.