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Semin Oncol. 2013 Feb;40(1):37-44. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2012.11.005.

The genetics of neuroendocrine tumors.

Author information

1
Department of Endocrine Oncology, Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden. kjell.oberg@medsci.uu.se

Abstract

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) present a wide spectrum of malignant diseases from rather benign to very malignant variants. The majority of these tumors are sporadic, but there are several familial (inherited) syndromes to consider, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 and type 2 (MEN-1 and MEN-2), von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL), tuberosclerosis, and neurofibromatosis syndromes. The MEN-1 gene is mutated not only in MEN-1 families, but a recent study shows that more than 40% of sporadic pancreatic NETs (PNETs) harbor MEN-1 gene mutations. The same study reported that ATRX/DAXX genes are mutated in a significant number of tumors, as are genes encoding components of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signal transduction pathway. These findings have implications for the new therapies that have been approved for the treatment of PNETs, such as the tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib, as well the mTOR inhibitor everolimus. Small intestinal NETs show a less varied mutational pattern in that the majority of genetic alterations are found on chromosome 18. There seem to be no differences between the sporadic and the familiar type of small intestinal NETs (carcinoids). A wide range of genetic alterations have been described for the different subtypes of NETs, but the mechanisms underlying tumor development are essentially unknown except for MEN-2, in which an activating mutation of the RET proto-oncogene drives tumor progression and affords a direct genotype/phenotype correlation. Genome-wide screening of different types of NETs can now be performed for a reasonable price and is likely to generate new insights into the tumor biology and carcinogenesis in various subtypes of NETs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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