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Sven Schinner, Holger S Willenberg, Matthias Schott, and Werner A Scherbaum

Wnt-signaling has recently been identified as a regulator of a number of endocrine functions in health and disease in addition to its original attribution to developmental biology. Wnts are extracellular ligands on frizzled receptors and on lipoprotein receptor-related protein co-receptors. Ligand binding leads eventually to the activation of intracellular signaling cascades; based on the involvement of the transcriptional co-activator β-catenin it can be distinguished between canonical (i.e. β-catenin) and non-canonical Wnt-signaling. Recent studies revealed that canonical Wnt-signaling regulates the function of endocrine organs and contributes to a number of endocrine disorders. In this review, we would like to focus on a) recent mechanistic data on Wnts in pancreatic β-cell function; b) human genetic studies on Wnt signaling in type 2 diabetes mellitus; c) crosstalk between adipocytes and endocrine cells through Wnt-signaling molecules (with a focus on the role of Wnt-signaling in adrenocortical cells).

Free access

Anne Thiel, Anna-Carinna Reis, Matthias Haase, Gerald Goh, Matthias Schott, Holger S Willenberg, and Ute I Scholl


Cortisol excess due to adrenal adenomas or hyperplasia causes Cushing's syndrome. Recent genetic studies have identified a somatic PRKACA L206R mutation as a cause of cortisol-producing adenomas. We aimed to compare the clinical features of PRKACA-mutant lesions with those of CTNNB1 mutations, and to search for similar mutations in unilateral hyperplasia or tumors co-secreting aldosterone.

Design, patients, and methods

In this study, 60 patients with cortisol excess who had adrenalectomies at our institution between 1992 and 2013 were assessed, and somatic mutations were determined by Sanger sequencing. A total of 36 patients had overt Cushing's syndrome, the remainder were subclinical: 59 cases were adenomas (three bilateral) and one was classified as hyperplasia. Four tumors had proven co-secretion of aldosterone.


Among cortisol-secreting unilateral lesions without evidence of co-secretion (n=52), we identified somatic mutations in PRKACA (L206R) in 23.1%, CTNNB1 (S45P, S45F) in 23.1%, GNAS (R201C) in 5.8%, and CTNNB1+GNAS (S45P, R201H) in 1.9%. PRKACA and GNAS mutations were mutually exclusive. Of the co-secreting tumors, two (50%) had mutations in KCNJ5 (G151R and L168R). The hyperplastic gland showed a PRKACA L206R mutation, while patients with bilateral adenomas did not have known somatic mutations. PRKACA-mutant lesions were associated with younger age, overt Cushing's syndrome, and higher cortisol levels vs non-PRKACA-mutant or CTNNB1-mutant lesions. CTNNB1 mutations were more significantly associated with right than left lesions.


PRKACA L206R is present not only in adenomas, but also in unilateral hyperplasia and is associated with more severe autonomous cortisol secretion. Bilateral adenomas may be caused by yet-unknown germline mutations.

Free access

Julia Wendler, Matthias Kroiss, Katja Gast, Michael C Kreissl, Stephanie Allelein, Urs Lichtenauer, Rainer Blaser, Christine Spitzweg, Martin Fassnacht, Matthias Schott, Dagmar Führer, and Vera Tiedje


Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is an orphan disease and confers a dismal prognosis. Standard treatment is not established.


The aim of this study is to describe clinical characteristics, current treatment regimens and outcome of ATC and to identify clinical prognostic markers and treatment factors associated with improved prognosis.


Retrospective cohort study at five German tertiary care centers.

Patients and methods

Totally 100 ATC patients diagnosed between 2000 and 2015 were included in the analysis. Disease-specific overall survival (OS) was compared with the Kaplan–Meier method and log-rank test; Cox proportional hazard model was used to identify risk factors.


The 6-month, 1-year and 5-year disease-specific OS rates were 37, 28 and 5%, respectively. Stage-dependent OS at 6 months was 78, 54 and 18% for stage IVA, B and C, respectively. 29% patients survived >1 year. Multivariate analysis of OS identified age ≥70 years, incomplete local resection status and the presence of distant metastasis as significant risk factors associated with shorter survival. Radical surgery (hazard ratio [HR] 2.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19–4.09, P = 0.012), external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) ≥40 Gy (HR = 0.34, 0.15–0.76, P = 0.008) and any kind of chemotherapy (CTX) (HR = 11.64, 2.42–60.39, P = 0.003) were associated with longer survival in multivariate analyses adjusted for age and tumor stage. A multimodal treatment regimen was significantly associated with a survival benefit (HR = 1.04, 1.01–1.08, P < 0.0001) only in IVC patients.


Disease-specific OS is still poor in ATC. Treatment factors associated with improved OS provide a rationale to devise treatment pathways for routine care. Collaborative research structures should be aimed to advance treatment of ATC.

Free access

Andreas Raffel, Claus F Eisenberger, Kenko Cupisti, Matthias Schott, Stephan E Baldus, Imke Hoffmann, Feride Aydin, Wolfram T Knoefel, and Nikolas H Stoecklein


EpCAM (CD326) is overexpressed in progenitor cells of endocrine pancreatic islands of Langerhans during fetal development and was suggested to act as a morphoregulatory molecule in pancreatic island ontogeny. We tested whether EpCAM overexpression is reactivated in insulinomas, endocrine tumors arising in the pancreas.


We used monoclonal anti-EpCAM antibody Ber-Ep4 for immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tumor material. We analyzed 53 insulinomas: 40 benign (disease stage<IIa) and 13 malignant tumors (disease stage IIIb/IV). Disease stage disposition followed new TNM classification of the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (ENETS) for foregut neuroendocrine tumors (2006). Additionally, ten insulinoma metastases were analyzed. Clinical follow-up was available for overall survival analysis from 49 patients. The EpCAM expression of the islands of Langerhans was classified as 2+ in healthy pancreatic tissue.


In 38% of the benign insulinomas (disease stage<IIa), we found strong (3+) EpCAM expression. In contrast, malignant insulinomas (disease stage IIIb/IV) and their metastases exhibited a strong (3+) EpCAM expression with 78 and 80% respectively, significantly more frequent (P<0.01). The malignant tissue was characterized by a significantly lower number of unstained cells and significantly higher number of 3+ stained cells. Quantitative PCR for EpCAM mRNA validated strong EpCAM expression in malignant insulinoma. Kaplan–Meier curves indicated survival disadvantage for EpCAM 3+ insulinomas, but this was not statistically significant (log-rank test).


This first EpCAM expression study in benign/malignant insulinomas indicates that strong EpCAM expression could help to identify patients at risk for malignant disease and might be used as a therapeutic target for antibody-based therapies in patients with metastatic insulinoma.

Open access

Luca Giovanella, Penelope M Clark, Luca Chiovato, Leonidas Duntas, Rossella Elisei, Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen, Laurence Leenhardt, Markus Luster, Camilla Schalin-Jäntti, Matthias Schott, Ettore Seregni, Herald Rimmele, Jan Smit, and Frederik A Verburg

Differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) is the most common endocrine cancer and its incidence has increased in recent decades. Initial treatment usually consists of total thyroidectomy followed by ablation of thyroid remnants by iodine-131. As thyroid cells are assumed to be the only source of thyroglobulin (Tg) in the human body, circulating Tg serves as a biochemical marker of persistent or recurrent disease in DTC follow-up. Currently, standard follow-up for DTC comprises Tg measurement and neck ultrasound combined, when indicated, with an additional radioiodine scan. Measurement of Tg after stimulation by endogenous or exogenous TSH is recommended by current clinical guidelines to detect occult disease with a maximum sensitivity due to the suboptimal sensitivity of older Tg assays. However, the development of new highly sensitive Tg assays with improved analytical sensitivity and precision at low concentrations now allows detection of very low Tg concentrations reflecting minimal amounts of thyroid tissue without the need for TSH stimulation. Use of these highly sensitive Tg assays has not yet been incorporated into clinical guidelines but they will, we believe, be used by physicians caring for patients with DTC. The aim of this clinical position paper is, therefore, to offer advice on the various aspects and implications of using these highly sensitive Tg assays in the clinical care of patients with DTC.

Restricted access

Fatemeh Majidi, Samuela Martino, Mustafa Kondakci, Christina Antke, Matthias Haase, Vasileios Chortis, Wiebke Arlt, Cristina L Ronchi, Martin Fassnacht, Claire Laurent, Jean-Michel Petit, Olivier Casasnovas, Amir Mouhammed Habra, Aleem Kanji, Roberto Salvatori, An Thi Nhat Ho, Ariadni Spyroglou, Felix Beuschlein, Diego Villa, Wasithep Limvorapitak, Björn Engelbrekt Wahlin, Oliver Gimm, Martina Rudelius, Matthias Schott, Ulrich Germing, Rainer Haas, and Norbert Gattermann


We sought to refine the clinical picture of primary adrenal lymphoma (PAL), a rare lymphoid malignancy with predominant adrenal manifestation and risk of adrenal insufficiency.


Ninety-seven patients from 14 centers in Europe, Canada and the United States were included in this retrospective analysis between 1994 and 2017.


Of the 81 patients with imaging data, 19 (23%) had isolated adrenal involvement (iPAL), while 62 (77%) had additional extra-adrenal involvement (PAL+). Among patients who had both CT and PET scans, 18FDG-PET revealed extra-adrenal involvement not detected by CT scan in 9/18 cases (50%). The most common clinical manifestations were B symptoms (55%), fatigue (45%), and abdominal pain (35%). Endocrinological assessment was often inadequate. With a median follow-up of 41.6 months, 3-year progression-free (PFS) and overall (OS) survival rates in the entire cohort were 35.5% and 39.4%, respectively. The hazard ratios of iPAL for PFS and OS were 40.1 (95% CI: 2.63–613.7, P = 0.008) and 2.69 (95% CI: 0.61–11.89, P = 0.191), respectively. PFS was much shorter in iPAL vs PAL+ (median 4 months vs not reached, P = 0.006), and OS also appeared to be shorter (median 16 months vs not reached), but the difference did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.16). Isolated PAL was more frequent in females (OR = 3.81; P = 0.01) and less frequently associated with B symptoms (OR = 0.159; P = 0.004).


We found unexpected heterogeneity in the clinical spectrum of PAL. Further studies are needed to clarify whether clinical distinction between iPAL and PAL+ is corroborated by differences in molecular biology.