Modern pathology : an official journal of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, Inc

Tyrosine kinase receptors as molecular targets in pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas.

PMID 24390213


Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas are neuroendocrine tumors shown to be responsive to multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment. Despite growing knowledge regarding their genetic basis, the ability to predict behavior in these tumors remains challenging. There is also limited knowledge of their tyrosine kinase receptor expression and whether the clinical response observed to the TKI sunitinib relates only to its anti-angiogenic properties or also due to a direct effect on tumor cells. To answer these questions, an in vitro model of sunitinib treatment of a pheochromocytoma cell line was created. Sunitinib targets (VEGFRs, PDGFRs, and C-KIT), FGFRs, and cell cycle regulatory proteins were investigated in human tissue microarrays. SDHB immunohistochemistry was used as a surrogate marker for the presence of succinate dehydrogenase mutations. The FGFR4 G388R single nucleotide polymorphism was also investigated. Sunitinib treatment in vitro decreases cell proliferation mainly by targeting cell cycle, DNA metabolism, and cell organization genes. FGFR1, -2, and -4, VEGFR2, PDGFRα, and p16 were overexpressed in primary human pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. Discordant results were observed for VEGFR1, p27, and p21 overexpressed in paragangliomas but underexpressed in pheochromocytomas; PDGFRβ, Rb, and Cyclin D1 overexpressed in paragangliomas only; and FGFR3 overexpressed in pheochromocytomas and underexpressed in paragangliomas. Low expression of C-KIT, p53, and Aurora kinase A and B was observed. Nuclear FGFR2 expression was associated with increased risk of metastasis (odds ratio (OR)=7.61, P=0.008), as was membranous PDGFRα (OR=13.71, P=0.015), membranous VEGFR1 (OR=8.01, P=0.037), nuclear MIB1 (OR=1.26, P=0.008), and cytoplasmic p27 (OR=1.037, P=0.030). FGFR3, VEGFR2, and C-KIT levels were associated with decreased risk of metastasis. We provide new insights into the mechanistic actions of sunitinib in pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas, and support current evidence that multitargeted TKIs might be a suitable treatment alternative for these tumors.