Parasympathetic Paragangliomas Are Part of the Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome

Department of Pathology, Josephine Nefkens Institute, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (Impact Factor: 6.21). 10/2009; 94(11):4367-71. DOI: 10.1210/jc.2009-1479
Source: PubMed


Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease, caused by germline mutations in the VHL gene, is a hereditary tumor syndrome manifested by hemangioblastomas, clear cell renal cell carcinomas, and pheochromocytomas. In addition, a multitude of other rare tumors, including parasympathetic paragangliomas, can occur and even be the sole manifestation of VHL disease. The VHL gene is a bona fide tumor suppressor gene with biallelic inactivation contributing to tumor formation. However, in parasympathetic paragangliomas occurring in VHL disease, biallelic inactivation of the VHL gene has not been demonstrated to date.
The head and neck paragangliomas of two VHL patients were analyzed for mutations by direct sequencing of the VHL gene. In addition loss of heterozygosity analysis was performed for three microsatellite loci near the VHL gene. To rule out other underlying genetic causes of the parasympathetic paragangliomas, mutation analysis of the SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD genes was also performed.
Apart from germline VHL mutations, no additional mutations were found in the paraganglioma-related tumor suppressor genes SDHB, SDHC, and SDHD. Analysis of paraganglioma tissue revealed loss of the VHL wild-type allele in both tumors, indicating that in these tumors biallelic VHL gene inactivation occurred.
These findings indicate that parasympathetic paragangliomas in VHL disease, although rare, are part of the syndrome and related to VHL gene inactivation. Clinicians should be aware of the potential occurrence of parasympathetic paragangliomas in VHL disease.

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    • "VHL-associated pheochromocytomas secrete mostly norepinephrine due to low or absent expression of phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase; thus, patients present with increased plasma and urinary normetanephrine [49]. The adrenal medulla is the most common paraganglia affected in VHL type 2 patients but rare sympathetic and parasympathetic paragangliomas have also been described [27] [47] [50]. Pheochromocytomas are often bilateral and generally have a good prognosis [51] [52]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Paragangliomas are rare neuroendocrine tumors that arise in the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic paragangliomas are mainly found in the adrenal medulla (designated pheochromocytomas) but may also have a thoracic, abdominal, or pelvic localization. Parasympathetic paragangliomas are generally located at the head or neck. Knowledge concerning the familial forms of paragangliomas has greatly improved in recent years. Additionally to the genes involved in the classical syndromic forms: VHL gene (von Hippel-Lindau), RET gene (Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type 2), and NF1 gene (Neurofibromatosis type 1), 10 novel genes have so far been implicated in the occurrence of paragangliomas/pheochromocytomas: SDHA, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, SDHAF2, TMEM127, MAX, EGLN1, HIF2A, and KIF1B. It is currently accepted that about 35% of the paragangliomas cases are due to germline mutations in one of these genes. Furthermore, somatic mutations of RET, VHL, NF1, MAX, HIF2A, and H-RAS can also be detected. The identification of the mutation responsible for the paraganglioma/pheochromocytoma phenotype in a patient may be crucial in determining the treatment and allowing specific follow-up guidelines, ultimately leading to a better prognosis. Herein, we summarize the most relevant aspects regarding the genetics and clinical aspects of the syndromic and nonsyndromic forms of pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma aiming to provide an algorithm for genetic testing.
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary paraganglioma (PGL) is characterized by the development of highly vascularized paraganglionic tumors as a result of germline mutations in the SDHB, SDHC or SDHD subunit genes of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH; mitochondrial complex II), or in the Von Hippel-Lindau tumor-suppressor gene. Although many PGL mutations have been described, gross SDHD deletions have not yet been implicated as founder mutations and are rarely characterized at the DNA sequence level. We investigated the genetic basis of head and neck PGLs observed in 20 subjects from two unrelated multiplex pedigrees from Austria and identified a 4944-base pair partial SDHD deletion, which escaped PCR-based detection methods. The deletion occurred between Alu elements and was present within the same haplotype context in both pedigrees, indicating a founder effect. The deletion caused tumors only after a paternal transmission similar to other conventional SDHD mutations, suggesting preservation of genomic imprinting mechanisms operating at this locus. These data describe a large SDHD deletion at the genomic sequence level and indicate that gross SDHD deletions could be a founder PGL mutation in certain populations.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2010 · Journal of Human Genetics
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    ABSTRACT: Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PHEO/PGL) are neuroendocrine tumors that arise from sympathetic and parasympathetic paraganglia. Diagnosed rarely during childhood, PHEO/PGL are nonetheless important clinical entities, particularly given our evolving understanding of their pathophysiology. We identified articles through the U.S. National Library of Medicine by using the search terms pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Results were narrowed to manuscripts that included children and studies related to the genetics of PHEO/PGL. Web-based resources for genetic disorders were also used. For all articles, we performed subsequent reference searches and verification of source data. Up to 20% of PHEO/PGL are diagnosed in children. Most are functional tumors, and clinical presentation includes symptoms related to catecholamine hypersecretion and/or tumor mass effect. Increasingly, PHEO/PGL are identified during presymptomatic screening in children with genetic syndromes associated with PHEO/PGL (multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, von Hippel-Lindau disease, and the paraganglioma syndromes). Plasma and/or urine metanephrines are the best diagnostic test for a functional tumor, and the management of pediatric patients is similar to adults. Genetic counseling should be undertaken in all cases. Although most pediatric PHEO/PGL are benign, these tumors can occasionally metastasize, a condition for which no curative treatment exists. Although PHEO/PGL are rarely diagnosed during childhood, the pediatric provider should be able to recognize and screen for such tumors, particularly in the context of a known genetic predisposition. Optimal care of these children includes a multidisciplinary team approach at centers experienced in the evaluation and treatment of these uncommon yet fascinating endocrine neoplasms.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2010 · The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
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