Midgut carcinoid tumors are rare malignant tumors with origin in the neuroendocrine cells of the small intestine. Due to secretion of a variety of peptide hormones and biogenic amines they cause the carcinoid syndrome. Metastases are often present at first diagnosis. Despite this, patients have a realistic chance to survive for a prolonged period (30% (unresectable/metastatic disease) -79% (non-metastatic disease) 5-year survival rate) if treated by a combination of surgery and medication. Unlike their foregut counterparts, midgut carcinoid tumors are not or rarely associated with the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome. The genetic back-ground to tumorigenesis of these neoplasms is unknown. In contrast, the events involved in tumorigenesis of gastroenteropancreatic adenocarcinomas are better characterized with frequent mutations e.g. of the Smad4/DPC4, Smad2/MADR2/JV18-1 and DCC genes on chromosome 18.
Eight metastatic midgut carcinoids were analysed by a genome-wide screening for loss of heterozygosity using 131 PCR-amplified fluorescent-labelled microsatellite markers. DNA sequence analysis using oligonucleotide primers flanking exons 8-11 of the Smad4/DPC4 gene and immunohistochemical staining with Smad4/DPC4 antibodies was performed.
Chromosome 18 was deleted in seven out of eight tumors (88%). All but one of these tumors had lost both 18p and 18q, the remaining tumor had lost the long arm but retained the short arm. Several other chromosomal alleles were lost in a subset of the tumors. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on chromosome 11q13, the MEN 1 locus, was not found. Smad4/DPC4 wild-type sequence and normal immunohistochemical staining for Smad4/DPC4 protein was found for all analysed tumors.
Our finding of a high frequency of chromosome 18 deletions in 88% of the tumors strongly suggests that midgut carcinoid tumorigenesis might involve inactivation of a candidate tumor suppressor gene located in that region while Smad4/DPC4 is unlikely to be involved in that process. A more detailed analysis of the genetic events in midgut carcinoid tumors is warranted to clarify their neogenetic origin.
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der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin