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      Gastroenteropancreatic High-Grade Neuroendocrine Neoplasms: Histology and Molecular Analysis, Two Sides of the Same Coin

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          Background: In gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) high-grade neuroendocrine neoplasms (H-NENs), Ki-67 threshold of 55% defines three prognosis subclasses: neuroendocrine tumor (NET) G3, neuroendocrine carcinoma (NEC) <55%, and NEC ≥55%. We investigated whether the molecular profiling of H-NENs differs among these subcategories and evaluated potential therapeutic targets, including PD-L1. Methods: In GEP-NEN patients, we evaluated: (i) 55% threshold for Ki-67 labeling index for further stratifying NEC and (ii) immunoreactivity and gene mutations by immunohistochemistry and targeted next-generation sequencing (T-NGS). Results: Fifteen NETs G3 and 39 NECs were identified. Ki-67 labeling index was <55% in 9 NECs and ≥55% in 30 NECs. Gene mutations by NGS ( TP53, 32.9%; KRAS, 5.5%; BRAF, 4.1%) were detected in 46.6% NENs, significantly enriched in NEC ≥55% (76.7%) compared to NEC <55% (55.6%) or NET (20.0%). PD-L1 staining in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes was observed in NEC ≥55% (36.7%; p = 0.03). Median OS was 4.3 years in NET G3, 1.8 years in NEC <55%, and 0.7 years in NEC ≥55% ( p <0.0001); it was 2.3 years with NGS wild-type, 0.7 years with ≥1 mutation ( p <0.0001), 0.8 years in PD-L1-positive patients, and 1.7 years in PD-L1-negative subjects ( p = 0.0004). In multivariate analysis, only the proposed subclassification approach yielded statistically significant differences between groups (NEC <55% vs. NET G3, HR 14.1, 95% CI 2.2–89.8, p = 0.005; NEC ≥55% vs. NET G3, HR 25.8, 95% CI 3.9–169, p = 0.0007). Conclusions: These findings identify NEC ≥55% as a biologically and prognostically distinct subtype and pave the way for more personalized treatment.

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          Predictive and prognostic factors for treatment and survival in 305 patients with advanced gastrointestinal neuroendocrine carcinoma (WHO G3): the NORDIC NEC study.

          As studies on gastrointestinal neuroendocrine carcinoma (WHO G3) (GI-NEC) are limited, we reviewed clinical data to identify predictive and prognostic markers for advanced GI-NEC patients. Data from advanced GI-NEC patients diagnosed 2000-2009 were retrospectively registered at 12 Nordic hospitals. The median survival was 11 months in 252 patients given palliative chemotherapy and 1 month in 53 patients receiving best supportive care (BSC) only. The response rate to first-line chemotherapy was 31% and 33% had stable disease. Ki-67<55% was by receiver operating characteristic analysis the best cut-off value concerning correlation to the response rate. Patients with Ki-67<55% had a lower response rate (15% versus 42%, P<0.001), but better survival than patients with Ki-67≥55% (14 versus 10 months, P<0.001). Platinum schedule did not affect the response rate or survival. The most important negative prognostic factors for survival were poor performance status (PS), primary colorectal tumors and elevated platelets or lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels. Advanced GI-NEC patients should be considered for chemotherapy treatment without delay.PS, colorectal primary and elevated platelets and LDH levels were prognostic factors for survival. Patients with Ki-67<55% were less responsive to platinum-based chemotherapy, but had a longer survival. Our data indicate that it may not be correct to consider all GI-NEC as one single disease entity.
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            A common classification framework for neuroendocrine neoplasms: an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and World Health Organization (WHO) expert consensus proposal

            The classification of neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) differs between organ systems and currently causes considerable confusion. A uniform classification framework for NENs at any anatomical location may reduce inconsistencies and contradictions among the various systems currently in use. The classification suggested here is intended to allow pathologists and clinicians to manage their patients with NENs consistently, while acknowledging organ-specific differences in classification criteria, tumor biology, and prognostic factors. The classification suggested is based on a consensus conference held at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in November 2017 and subsequent discussion with additional experts. The key feature of the new classification is a distinction between differentiated neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), also designated carcinoid tumors in some systems, and poorly differentiated NECs, as they both share common expression of neuroendocrine markers. This dichotomous morphological subdivision into NETs and NECs is supported by genetic evidence at specific anatomic sites as well as clinical, epidemiologic, histologic, and prognostic differences. In many organ systems, NETs are graded as G1, G2, or G3 based on mitotic count and/or Ki-67 labeling index, and/or the presence of necrosis; NECs are considered high grade by definition. We believe this conceptual approach can form the basis for the next generation of NEN classifications and will allow more consistent taxonomy to understand how neoplasms from different organ systems inter-relate clinically and genetically.
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              Small cell and large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas of the pancreas are genetically similar and distinct from well-differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

              Poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) of the pancreas are rare malignant neoplasms with a poor prognosis. The aim of this study was to determine the clinicopathologic and genetic features of poorly differentiated NECs and compare them with other types of pancreatic neoplasms. We investigated alterations of KRAS, CDKN2A/p16, TP53, SMAD4/DPC4, DAXX, ATRX, PTEN, Bcl2, and RB1 by immunohistochemistry and/or targeted exomic sequencing in surgically resected specimens of 9 small cell NECs, 10 large cell NECs, and 11 well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) of the pancreas. Abnormal immunolabeling patterns of p53 and Rb were frequent (p53, 18 of 19, 95%; Rb, 14 of 19, 74%) in both small cell and large cell NECs, whereas Smad4/Dpc4, DAXX, and ATRX labeling was intact in virtually all of these same carcinomas. Abnormal immunolabeling of p53 and Rb proteins correlated with intragenic mutations in the TP53 and RB1 genes. In contrast, DAXX and ATRX labeling was lost in 45% of PanNETs, whereas p53 and Rb immunolabeling was intact in these same cases. Overexpression of Bcl-2 protein was observed in all 9 small cell NECs (100%) and in 5 of 10 (50%) large cell NECs compared with only 2 of 11 (18%) PanNETs. Bcl-2 overexpression was significantly correlated with higher mitotic rate and Ki67 labeling index in neoplasms in which it was present. Small cell NECs are genetically similar to large cell NECs, and these genetic changes are distinct from those reported in PanNETs. The finding of Bcl-2 overexpression in poorly differentiated NECs, particularly small cell NEC, suggests that Bcl-2 antagonists/inhibitors may be a viable treatment option for these patients.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                July 2020
                27 September 2019
                : 110
                : 7-8
                : 616-629
                a1st Pathology Division, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS – Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy
                bDivision of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, IEO, European Institute of Oncology IRCCS, Milan, Italy
                cMedical Oncology Department, Fondazione IRCCS – Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy
                dDepartment of Pathology, ASST Franciacorta, Mellino Mellini Hospital, Chiari, Brescia, Italy
                eDepartment of Surgical Sciences and Integrated Diagnostics, School of Medicine, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
                fPolistudium SRL, Milan, Italy
                gPathology Unit, Clinical Department of Medical, Surgical and Health Sciences, University of Trieste, Ospedale di Cattinara, Trieste, Italy
                hDepartment of Research, Fondazione IRCCS – Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy
                iTeaching, Scientific and Diagnostic Pathology Laboratory, Tbilisi State Medical University, Tbilisi, Georgia
                jSchool of Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
                kDivision of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and Neuroendocrine Tumors, IEO, European Institute of Oncology IRCCS, Milan, Italy
                l2nd Pathology Division, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS – Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy
                Author notes
                *Dr. Massimo Milione, Fondazione IRCCS – Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Via G. Venezian 1, IT–20133 Milan (Italy), E-Mail massimo.milione@istitutotumori.mi.it
                503722 Neuroendocrinology 2020;110:616–629
                © 2019 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 2, Pages: 14
                Research Article


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