The last decade witnessed the emergence of genomics, a set of high-throughput molecular measurements in biological samples. These pan-genomic and agnostic approaches have revolutionized the molecular biology and genetics of malignant and benign tumors. These techniques have been applied successfully to adrenocortical tumors. Exome sequencing identified new major drivers in all tumor types, including KCNJ5, ATP1A1, ATP2B3 and CACNA1D mutations in aldosterone-producing adenomas (APA), PRKACA mutations in cortisol-producing adenomas (CPA), ARMC5 mutations in primary bilateral macronodular adrenocortical hyperplasia (PBMAH) and ZNRF3 mutations in adrenocortical carcinomas (ACC). Moreover, the various genomic approaches – including exome sequencing, transcriptome, miRNome, genome and methylome – converge into a single molecular classification of adrenocortical tumors. Especially for ACC, two main molecular groups have emerged, showing major differences in outcomes. These ACC groups differ by their gene expression profiles, but also by recurrent mutations and specific DNA hypermethylation patterns in the subgroup of poor outcome. The clinical impact of these findings is just starting. The main altered signaling pathways now become therapeutic targets. The molecular groups of diseases individualize robust subtypes within diseases such as APA, CPA, PBMAH and ACC. A revised nosology of adrenocortical tumors should impact the clinical research. Obvious consequences also include genetic counseling for the new genetic diseases such as ARMC5 mutations in PBMAH, and a better prognostication of ACC based on targeted measurements of a few discriminant molecular alterations. Identifying the main molecular groups of adrenocortical tumors by extensively gathering the molecular variations is a significant step forward towards precision medicine.
Simon Faillot and Guillaume Assie
Thomas Vanbrabant, Martin Fassnacht, Guillaume Assie and Olaf Dekkers
Objective Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a malignancy with a poor prognosis. Many publications in ACC report on risk factors for a poor outcome; one risk factor studied is hormonal hypersecretion (cortisol, sex-hormones, steroid precursors, or aldosterone). The aim of this systematic review was to study the association between hormonal secretion and recurrence or mortality in ACC.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched Pubmed, Embase and The Cochrane library (January 2018) for cohort studies examining the association between hormonal secretion on overall or recurrence-free survival in ACC.
Methods A random effects model meta-analysis was performed to obtain a weighted relative risk comparing cortisol-secreting and/or androgen-secreting ACCs to non-secreting tumours regarding overall and recurrence-free survival. Risk of bias assessment was performed for all studies included.
Result Nineteen publications were included representing a total of 3,814 patients. Most studies were generally considered low/intermediate risk of bias. Meta-analysis showed higher mortality risk for cortisol secreting ACCs, weighted relative risk 1.71 (95% CI 1.18-2.47) combining studies that adjusted for tumour stage; also a higher recurrence risk was found for cortisol producing ACCs, relative risk 1.43 (95% CI 1.18-1.73). Androgen secretion was not clearly associated with survival (RR 0.82, 95%CI 0.60-1.14).
This systematic review and meta-analysis shows that cortisol-secreting ACCs are associated with a worse overall survival; future research is needed to establish whether this association points to negative effects of cortisol action, whether it signifies a more aggressive ACC subtype or whether cortisol is merely a prognostic marker.
Martin Fassnacht, Olaf M Dekkers, Tobias Else, Eric Baudin, Alfredo Berruti, Ronald R de Krijger, Harm R Haak, Radu Mihai, Guillaume Assie and Massimo Terzolo
Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and in most cases steroid hormone-producing tumor with variable prognosis. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide clinicians with best possible evidence-based recommendations for clinical management of patients with ACC based on the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system. We predefined four main clinical questions, which we judged as particularly important for the management of ACC patients and performed systematic literature searches: (A) What is needed to diagnose an ACC by histopathology? (B) Which are the best prognostic markers in ACC? (C) Is adjuvant therapy able to prevent recurrent disease or reduce mortality after radical resection? (D) What is the best treatment option for macroscopically incompletely resected, recurrent or metastatic disease? Other relevant questions were discussed within the group. Selected Recommendations: (i) We recommend that all patients with suspected and proven ACC are discussed in a multidisciplinary expert team meeting. (ii) We recommend that every patient with (suspected) ACC should undergo careful clinical assessment, detailed endocrine work-up to identify autonomous hormone excess and adrenal-focused imaging. (iii) We recommend that adrenal surgery for (suspected) ACC should be performed only by surgeons experienced in adrenal and oncological surgery aiming at a complete en bloc resection (including resection of oligo-metastatic disease). (iv) We suggest that all suspected ACC should be reviewed by an expert adrenal pathologist using the Weiss score and providing Ki67 index. (v) We suggest adjuvant mitotane treatment in patients after radical surgery that have a perceived high risk of recurrence (ENSAT stage III, or R1 resection, or Ki67 >10%). (vi) For advanced ACC not amenable to complete surgical resection, local therapeutic measures (e.g. radiation therapy, radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization) are of particular value. However, we suggest against the routine use of adrenal surgery in case of widespread metastatic disease. In these patients, we recommend either mitotane monotherapy or mitotane, etoposide, doxorubicin and cisplatin depending on prognostic parameters. In selected patients with a good response, surgery may be subsequently considered. (vii) In patients with recurrent disease and a disease-free interval of at least 12 months, in whom a complete resection/ablation seems feasible, we recommend surgery or alternatively other local therapies. Furthermore, we offer detailed recommendations about the management of mitotane treatment and other supportive therapies. Finally, we suggest directions for future research.
Bruno Ragazzon, Rossella Libé, Guillaume Assié, Frédérique Tissier, Olivia Barreau, Claude Houdayer, Karine Perlemoine, Anne Audebourg, Eric Clauser, Fernande René-Corail, Xavier Bertagna, Bertrand Dousset, Jérôme Bertherat and Lionel Groussin
Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare disease with a poor overall outcome. Transcriptome analysis identified two groups of ACCs with different prognosis. In aggressive ACCs, somatic mutations of the tumor suppressor gene TP53 and the proto-oncogene β-catenin are detected in 50% of cases. For the remaining aggressive ACCs and for the group with a better prognosis, molecular alterations are unknown.
To identify new molecular actors driving adrenal tumorigenesis.
Analysis by mass array of 374 mutations among 32 common oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes was performed on the tumoral DNA of 26 ACCs, using Sequenom OncoCarta Panels.
Four mutations were identified, two previously known β-catenin mutations and one alteration in two other genes: JAK3 and retinoblastoma gene (RB1). The JAK3 alteration was found in leukocyte DNA and therefore considered as a polymorphism and not a somatic event. The full RB1 tumor suppressor gene was subsequently sequenced in a cohort of 49 ACCs (26 ACCs from the ‘OncoCarta cohort’ and 23 other ACCs): three somatic mutations were identified, all in the poor-outcome ACC group. By immunohistochemistry, a loss of the retinoblastoma protein (pRb) was found exclusively in aggressive ACCs in 27% of cases (seven out of 26), three of them with an inactivating RB1 mutation. Among the seven pRb-negative ACCs, five had an allele loss at the RB1 locus.
Parallel analysis of somatic mutations among known cancer genes allowed us to identify RB1 as a new actor in aggressive ACCs. These results suggest a prognostic significance of pRb expression loss in ACCs.
Hélène Lasolle, Christine Cortet, Fréderic Castinetti, Lucie Cloix, Philippe Caron, Brigitte Delemer, Rachel Desailloud, Christel Jublanc, Christine Lebrun-Frenay, Jean-Louis Sadoul, Luc Taillandier, Marie Batisse-Lignier, Fabrice Bonnet, Nathalie Bourcigaux, Damien Bresson, Olivier Chabre, Philippe Chanson, Cyril Garcia, Magalie Haissaguerre, Yves Reznik, Sophie Borot, Chiara Villa, Alexandre Vasiljevic, Stephan Gaillard, Emmanuel Jouanneau, Guillaume Assié and Gérald Raverot
Only few retrospective studies have reported an efficacy rate of temozolomide (TMZ) in pituitary tumors (PT), all around 50%. However, the long-term survival of treated patients is rarely evaluated. We therefore aimed to describe the use of TMZ on PT in clinical practice and evaluate the long-term survival.
Multicenter retrospective study by members of the French Society of Endocrinology.
Forty-three patients (14 women) treated with TMZ between 2006 and 2016 were included. Most tumors were corticotroph (n = 23) or lactotroph (n = 13), and 14 were carcinomas. Clinical/pathological characteristics of PT, as well as data from treatment evaluation and from the last follow-up were recorded. A partial response was considered as a decrease in the maximal tumor diameter by more than 30% and/or in the hormonal rate by more than 50% at the end of treatment.
The median treatment duration was 6.5 cycles (range 2–24), using a standard regimen for most and combined radiotherapy for six. Twenty-two patients (51.2%) were considered as responders. Silent tumor at diagnosis was associated with a poor response. The median follow-up after the end of treatment was 16 months (0–72). Overall survival was significantly higher among responders (P = 0.002); however, ten patients relapsed 5 months (0–57) after the end of TMZ treatment, five in whom TMZ was reinitiated without success.
Patients in our series showed a 51.2% response rate to TMZ, with an improved survival among responders despite frequent relapses. Our study highlights the high variability and lack of standardization of treatment protocols.
Luis G Pérez-Rivas, Marily Theodoropoulou, Troy H Puar, Julia Fazel, Mareike R Stieg, Francesco Ferraù, Guillaume Assié, Monica R Gadelha, Timo Deutschbein, Maria C Fragoso, Benno Kusters, Wolfgang Saeger, Jürgen Honegger, Michael Buchfelder, Márta Korbonits, Jérôme Bertherat, Günter K Stalla, Ad R Hermus, Felix Beuschlein and Martin Reincke
Somatic mutations in the ubiquitin-specific protease 8 (USP8) gene are frequent in corticotroph tumors causing Cushing’s disease (CD). Corticotroph tumor progression, the so-called Nelson’s syndrome (NS), is a potentially life-threatening complication of bilateral adrenalectomy in patients with refractory CD that is caused by the development of an ACTH-secreting tumor of the pituitary gland. Whether USP8 alterations are also present in progressive Nelson’s tumors has not been studied in detail so far.
Design and Methods
Retrospective, multicenter study involving tumors from 33 patients with progressive corticotroph tumors (29 females) and screening for somatic mutations on the mutational hotspot of the USP8 gene in the exon 14 with Sanger sequencing.
Fifteen out of 33 tumors (45%) presented with a mutation in the exon 14 of USP8, with c.2159C>A (p.Pro720Gln) being the most frequent (9/33), followed by c.2155_2157delTCC (p.Ser718del, 4/33) and c.2152T>C (p.Ser718Pro, 2/33). This prevalence is similar to that previously reported for CD. Mutations were found exclusively in females. Other variables, such as age at diagnosis with NS, body mass index, hyperpigmentation, visual field defects, adenoma size or mortality, did not significantly differ between patients with wild-type and mutant tumors. Patients with USP8 mutant tumors exhibited higher levels of plasma ACTH after surgery (median: 640 vs 112 pg/mL, P = 0.03). No differences were observed in ACTH normalization (<50 pg/mL) and tumor control after surgery for Nelson’s tumor.
Somatic mutations in USP8 are common in Nelson’s tumors, indicating that they do not drive the corticotroph tumor progression that leads to NS, and may be associated with a less favorable biochemical outcome after surgery for Nelson’s tumor.
Ann McCormack, Olaf M Dekkers, Stephan Petersenn, Vera Popovic, Jacqueline Trouillas, Gerald Raverot, Pia Burman and ESE survey collaborators
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.
Electronic survey to ESE members Dec 2015–Nov 2016.
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%.
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.