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Wouter W de Herder

For patients with neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas (GEP) (GEP-NETs), excellent care should ideally be provided by a multidisciplinary team of skilled health care professionals. In these patients, a combination of nuclear medicine imaging and conventional radiological imaging techniques is usually mandatory for primary tumour visualisation, tumour staging and evaluation of treatment. In specific cases, as in patients with occult insulinomas, sampling procedures can provide a clue as to where to localise the insulin-hypersecreting pancreatic NETs. Recent developments in these fields have led to an increase in the detection rate of primary GEP-NETs and their metastatic deposits. Radiopharmaceuticals targeted at specific tumour cell properties and processes can be used to provide sensitive and specific whole-body imaging. Functional imaging also allows for patient selection for receptor-based therapies and prediction of the efficacy of such therapies. Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (CT) and single-photon emission CT/CT are used to map functional images with anatomical localisations. As a result, tumour imaging and tumour follow-up strategies can be optimised for every individual GEP-NET patient. In some cases, functional imaging might give indications with regard to future tumour behaviour and prognosis.

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Wouter A van der Zwan, Lisa Bodei, Jan Mueller-Brand, Wouter W de Herder, Larry K Kvols and Dik J Kwekkeboom

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is a promising new treatment modality for inoperable or metastasized gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEPNETs) patients. Most studies report objective response rates in 15–35% of patients. Also, outcome in terms of progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival compares very favorably with that for somatostatin analogs, chemotherapy, or new, ‘targeted’ therapies. They also compare favorably to PFS data for liver-directed therapies. Two decades after the introduction of PRRT, there is a growing need for randomized controlled trials comparing PRRT to ‘standard’ treatment, that is treatment with agents that have proven benefit when tested in randomized trials. Combining PRRT with liver-directed therapies or with targeted therapies could improve treatment results. The question to be answered, however, is whether a combination of therapies performed within a limited time-span from one another results in a better PFS than a strategy in which other therapies are reserved until after (renewed) tumor progression. Randomized clinical trials comparing PRRT with other treatment modalities should be undertaken to determine the best treatment options and treatment sequelae for patients with GEPNETs.

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Wouter T Zandee, Kimberly Kamp, Roxanne C S van Adrichem, Richard A Feelders and Wouter W de Herder


To determine if urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) excretion is of prognostic value for overall survival (OS) in patients with a gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumour (NET) and to compare the prognostic value with patient characteristics, ENETS/WHO grading, ENETS TNM staging and biomarkers.

Design and methods

Data was collected from patients with a gastrointestinal NET or a NET with gastrointestinal metastases and available 5-HIAA excretion in 24-h urine samples. Laboratory results were stratified for urinary 5-HIAA and chromogranin A (CgA): <2× upper limit of normal (ULN), 2–10× ULN, or >10× ULN. For neuron-specific enolase (NSE), this was the reference range or >1× ULN. OS was compared using Kaplan−Meier and log-rank tests, and hazard ratios were calculated using Cox regression for univariate and multivariate analyses.


A total of 371 patients were included, 46.6% female with a mean age of 59.9 years. OS was shortest in patients with urinary 5-HIAA excretion >10× ULN vs reference range (median 83 months vs 141 months, P = 0.002). In univariate analysis, urinary 5-HIAA excretion >10× ULN was a negative predictor (HR 1.62, 95% CI: 1.09–2.39). However, in multivariate analysis, only age (HR 1.04, 95% CI: 1.01–1.08), grade 3 disease (HR 5.09, 95% CI: 2.20–11.79), NSE >1× ULN (HR 2.36, 95% CI: 1.34–4.14) and CgA >10× ULN (HR 3.61, 95% CI: 1.56–8.34) remained as the predictors.


Urinary 5-HIAA excretion >10× ULN is a negative predictor for OS. However, when added to other biomarkers and grading, it is no longer a predictor for OS. Therefore, it should only be determined to assess carcinoid syndrome and not for prognostic value.

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Marloes Louwerens, Wouter W de Herder, Pieter TE Postema, Hervé LJ Tanghe and Steven WJ Lamberts

Louwerens M, de Herder WW, Postema PTE, Tanghe HLJ, Lamberts SWJ. Pituitary insufficiency and regression of acromegaly caused by pituitary apoplexy following cerebral angiography. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;134:737–40. ISSN 0804–4643

Pituitary apoplexy as a complication of cerebral angiography has been described in only a few case reports. Some studies have reported the clinical resolution of active acromegaly after pituitary apoplexy. We present a patient with active acromegaly due to a growth hormone (GH)-secreting pituitary macroadenoma, who developed anterior and posterior pituitary insufficiency following cerebral angiography. Furthermore, a significant reduction in tumour size was accompanied by normalization of mean 24 h in GH insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and IGF binding protein 3 levels.

WW de Herder, Department of Internal Medicine III and Clinical Endocrinology, University Hospital Rotterdam, Dr Molewaterplein 40, 3015 GD Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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Frank RE Nobels, Wouter W de Herder, Dik J Kwekkeboom, Willy Coopmans, Andries Mulder, Roger Bouillon and Steven WJ Lamberts

Nobels FRE, de Herder WW, Kwekkeboom DJ, Coopmans W, Mulder A, Bouillon R, Lamberts SWJ. Serum chromogranin A in the differential diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol 1994:131:589–93. ISSN 0804–4643

We evaluated whether measuring serum levels of chromogranin A, a marker of neuroendocrine tumours, could be useful in the differential diagnosis between pituitary, adrenal and ectopic causes of Cushing's syndrome. Thirty patients with Cushing's syndrome were studied. The localization of the tumours responsible was pituitary in 15, adrenal in 5 and ectopic in 10 patients. Serum concentrations of chromogranin A were measured in all patients. Petrosal sinus sampling for chromogranin A was performed in the cases with pituitary-dependent Cushing's syndrome. Immunohistochemical staining for chromogranin A was carried out on part of the tumour specimens. Slightly elevated serum levels of chromogranin A (range 223–262 μg/1) were detected in inferior petrosal sinus and peripheral venous samples from three patients with pituitary-dependent Cushing's syndrome. Serum chromogranin A showed no significant pituitary to peripheral gradient in these patients. Chromogranin A levels were not elevated in cases of adrenal Cushing's syndrome. Markedly elevated concentrations (range 270–13900 μg/1) were shown in seven of 10 patients with neuroendocrine tumours with ectopic adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH) and/or corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) production. Widespread metastasis was present in all these cases. Subjects with "occult" carcinoid tumours, with limited spread, had normal chromogranin A levels Immunohistochemical staining for chromogranin A was positive in three out of five pituitary adenomas and in all neuroendocrine tumours with ectopic ACTH and/or CRH production, while it was negative in all adrenocortical tumour specimens. It is concluded that elevated serum levels of chromogranin A can serve as markers of neuroendocrine tumours with ectopic ACTH and/or CRH production. The circulating levels are dependent mainly on the size of the tumours. Serum chromogranin A is not useful in the diagnosis of so-called occult Cushing's syndrome, caused by ectopic ACTH and/or CRH secretion by small neuroendocrine tumours.

F Nobels, Department of Endocrinology, Onze Lieve Vrouw Hospital, 164 Moorselbaan, 9300 Aalst, Belgium

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Wouter W de Herder, Piet Uitterlinden, Aart-Jan van der Lely, Leo J Hofland and Steven WJ Lamberts

de Herder WW, Uitterlinden P, van der Lely A-J, Hofland LJ. Lamberts SWJ. Octreotide, but not bromocriptine, increases circulating insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 levels in acromegaly. Eur J Endocrinol 1995;133:195–9. ISSN 0804–4643

Twenty-three patients with active acromegaly underwent serum sampling for growth hormone (GH), insulin and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (IGFBP-1) after placebo or single doses of octreotide or bromocriptine. Integrated 24-h serum GH levels decreased by 90% after octreotide and 49% after bromocriptine. A statistically significant correlation between the course of GH levels after octreotide and bromocriptine was observed (p < 0.001). Octreotide, but not bromocriptine, induced a significant increase in integrated 24-h serum IGFBP-1 levels to 37.4 times the baseline values. Bromocriptine caused a non-significant increase in integrated 24-h serum IGFBP-1 levels, which argues against a direct regulatory effect of GH on IGFBP-1 production in acromegaly. In conclusion, octreotide induces in acromegaly the production of IGFBP-1, which occurs independently of the number of somatostatin receptors on the GH-secreting pituitary adenoma. The supposed inhibitory effect of IGFBP-1 on the biological effect of IGF-I might result in an additional clinical benefit in acromegalic patients as compared to treatment directed at the pituitary level.

WW de Herder, Department of Internal Medicine III and Clinical Endocrinology, University Hospital Rotterdam, Dr Molewaterplein 40, 3015 GD Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Free access

Johannes Hofland, Richard A Feelders, Ronald van der Wal, Michiel N Kerstens, Harm R Haak, Wouter W de Herder and Frank H de Jong


The insufficient diagnostic accuracy for differentiation between benign and malignant adrenocortical disease and lack of sensitive markers reflecting tumor load emphasize the need for novel biomarkers for diagnosis and follow-up of adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC).


Since the inhibin α-subunit is expressed within the adrenal cortex, the role of serum inhibin pro-αC as a tumor marker for ACC was studied in patients.


Regulation of adrenal pro-αC secretion was investigated by adrenocortical function tests. Serum inhibin pro-αC levels were measured in controls (n=181) and patients with adrenocortical hyperplasia (n=45), adrenocortical adenoma (ADA, n=32), ACC (n=32), or non-cortical tumors (n=12). Steroid hormone, ACTH, and inhibin A and B levels were also estimated in patient subsets.


Serum inhibin pro-αC levels increased by 16% after stimulation with ACTH (P=0.043). ACC patients had higher serum inhibin pro-αC levels than controls (medians 733 vs 307 ng/l, P<0.0001) and patients with adrenocortical hyperplasia, ADA, or non-adrenocortical adrenal tumors (148, 208, and 131 ng/l, respectively, P=0.0003). Inhibin pro-αC measurement in ACC patients had a sensitivity of 59% and specificity of 84% for differentiation from ADA patients. Receiver operating characteristic analysis displayed areas under the curve of 0.87 for ACC vs controls and 0.81 for ACC vs ADA (P<0.0001). Surgery or mitotane therapy was followed by a decrease of inhibin pro-αC levels in 10/10 ACC patients tested during follow-up (P=0.0065).


Inhibin pro-αC is produced by the adrenal gland. Differentiation between ADA and ACC by serum inhibin pro-αC is limited, but its levels may constitute a novel tumor marker for ACC.

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Wouter W de Herder, H Rob Taal, Piet Uitterlinden, Richard A Feelders, Joop A M J L Janssen and Aart-Jan van der Lely

Objectives: To study whether the growth hormone (GH) response after the subcutaneous administration 50 μg of octreotide (acute octreotide test) has any predictive value for long-term IGF-I normalization with Sandostatin LAR.

Design: Twenty four therapy-naive patients with active acromegaly were studied.

Results: >75% GH decrease in the acute octreotide test predicted long-term IGF-I normalization with Sandostatin LAR in 8/11 (73%) of patients. 3/13 (23%) patients with <75% GH decrease in the acute octreotide test were long-term biochemically controlled with Sandostatin LAR. Using the >75% GH reduction criterion, the sensitivity and specificity of this test for predicting long-term normalization of serum IGF-I with Sandostatin LAR treatment were 73% and 77%, respectively (positive and negative predictive values: 73% and 77%, respectively). 6/8 (75%) patients with GH suppression to levels <1.1 μg/l and 9/16 (56%) patients with GH suppression to levels <2 μg/l in the acute octreotide test showed normalization of serum IGF-I with long-term Sandostatin LAR treatment. The sensitivity and specificity of GH suppression <1.1 μg/l for predicting of the long-term normalization of serum IGF-I with Sandostatin LAR therapy were 55% and 85%, respectively (positive and negative predictive values: 75% and 69%, respectively). The sensitivity and specificity of GH suppression <2 μg/l for predicting of the long-term normalization of serum IGF-I with Sandostatin LAR therapy were 82% and 46%, respectively (positive and negative predictive values: 56% and 75%, respectively).

Conclusion: The acute octreotide is not recommended for clinical decision making with regard to long-term treatment using the long-acting somatostatin analog Sandostatin LAR in acromegaly.

Open access

Wouter W de Herder, Ambroos E M Reijs, Richard A Feelders, Maarten O van Aken, Eric P Krenning, Aart-Jan van der Lely and Dik J Kwekkeboom

Dopamine D2 receptor scintigraphy of pituitary adenomas is feasible by single-photon emission computed tomography using 123I-S-(−)-N-[(1-ethyl-2-pyrrolidinyl)methyl]-2-hydroxy-3-iodo-6-methoxybenzamide (123I-IBZM) and 123I-epidepride. 123I-epidepride is generally superior to 123I-IBZM for the visualization of D2 receptors on pituitary macroadenomas. However, 123I-IBZM and 123I-epidepride scintigraphy are generally not useful to predict the response to dopaminergic treatment in pituitary tumour patients. These techniques might allow discrimination of non-functioning pituitary macroadenomas from other non-tumour pathologies in the sellar region. Dopamine D2 receptors on pituitary tumours can also be studied using positron emission tomography with 11C-N-raclopride and 11C-N-methylspiperone.

Free access

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


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.


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.


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.


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.