JCM, Vol. 11, Pages 124: Targeting Aggressive Pituitary Adenomas at the Molecular Level—A Review

Journal of Clinical Medicine doi: 10.3390/jcm11010124

Benjamin Voellger
Zhuo Zhang
Julia Benzel
Junwen Wang
Ting Lei
Christopher Nimsky
Jörg-Walter Bartsch

Pituitary adenomas (PAs) are mostly benign endocrine tumors that can be treated by resection or medication. However, up to 10% of PAs show an aggressive behavior with invasion of adjacent tissue, rapid proliferation, or recurrence. Here, we provide an overview of target structures in aggressive PAs and summarize current clinical trials including, but not limited to, PAs. Mainly, drug targets in PAs are based on general features of tumor cells such as immune checkpoints, so that programmed cell death 1 (ligand 1) (PD-1/PD-L1) targeting may bear potential to cure aggressive PAs. In addition, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and their downstream pathways are triggered in PAs, thereby modulating tumor cell proliferation, migration and/or tumor angiogenesis. Temozolomide (TMZ) can be an effective treatment of aggressive PAs. Combination of TMZ with 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) or with radiotherapy could strengthen the therapeutic effects as compared to TMZ alone. Dopamine agonists (DAs) are the first line treatment for prolactinomas. Dopamine receptors are also expressed in other subtypes of PAs which renders Das potentially suitable to treat other subtypes of PAs. Furthermore, targeting the invasive behavior of PAs could improve therapy. In this regard, human matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family members and estrogens receptors (ERs) are highly expressed in aggressive PAs, and numerous studies demonstrated the role of these proteins to modulate invasiveness of PAs. This leaves a number of treatment options for aggressive PAs as reviewed here.

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