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In 1888, Pierre Ménétrier first described the disease that bears his name. Many of the findings he reported then remain accepted features of the disease. Based on studies performed in our laboratory over the past 20 years, we have implicated increased transforming growth factor-α (TGFα) expression and heightened epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activity in the pathogenesis of Ménétrier's disease. Herein, we provide a historical perspective of this rare disorder, review our experience with Ménétrier's disease, and discuss future challenges and opportunities posed by this disorder.
Molecular imaging biomarkers of proliferation hold great promise for quantifying response to personalized medicine. One such approach utilizes the positron emission tomography (PET) tracer 3'-deoxy-3'[18F]-fluorothymidine ([18F]FLT), an investigational agent whose uptake reflects thymidine salvage-dependent DNA synthesis. The goal of this study was to evaluate [18F]FLT-PET in the setting of Ménétrier's disease (MD), a rare, premalignant hyperproliferative disorder of the stomach treatable with cetuximab therapy. Over 15 months, a patient with confirmed MD underwent cetuximab therapy and was followed with sequential [18F]FLT-PET. For comparison to MD, an [18F]FLT-PET study was conducted in another patient to quantify uptake in a normal stomach. Prior to cetuximab therapy, stomach tissue in MD was easily visualized with [18F]FLT-PET, with pre-treatment uptake levels exceeding normal stomach uptake by approximately fourfold. Diminished [18F]FLT-PET in MD was observed following the initial and subsequent doses of cetuximab and correlated with clinical resolution of the disease. To our knowledge, this study reports the first clinical use of [18F]FLT-PET to assess proliferation in a premalignant disorder. We illustrate that the extent of MD involvement throughout the stomach could be easily visualized using [18F]FLT-PET, and that response to cetuximab could be followed quantitatively and non-invasively in sequential [18F]FLT-PET studies. Thus, [18F]FLT-PET appears to have potential to monitor response to treatment in this and potentially other hyperproliferative disorders.
Analysis of cellular signaling networks typically involves targeted measurements of phosphorylated protein intermediates. However, phosphoproteomic analyses usually require affinity enrichment of phosphopeptides and can be complicated by artifactual changes in phosphorylation caused by uncontrolled preanalytical variables, particularly in the analysis of tissue specimens. We asked whether changes in protein expression, which are more stable and easily analyzed, could reflect network stimulation and inhibition. We employed this approach to analyze stimulation and inhibition of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by EGF and selective EGFR inhibitors. Shotgun analysis of proteomes from proliferating A431 cells, EGF-stimulated cells, and cells co-treated with the EGFR inhibitors cetuximab or gefitinib identified groups of differentially expressed proteins. Comparisons of these protein groups identified 13 proteins whose EGF-induced expression changes were reversed by both EGFR inhibitors. Targeted multiple reaction monitoring analysis verified differential expression of 12 of these proteins, which comprise a candidate EGFR inhibition signature. We then tested these 12 proteins by multiple reaction monitoring analysis in three other models: 1) a comparison of DiFi (EGFR inhibitor-sensitive) and HCT116 (EGFR-insensitive) cell lines, 2) in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded mouse xenograft DiFi and HCT116 tumors, and 3) in tissue biopsies from a patient with the gastric hyperproliferative disorder Ménétrier's disease who was treated with cetuximab. Of the proteins in the candidate signature, a core group, including c-Jun, Jagged-1, and Claudin 4, were decreased by EGFR inhibitors in all three models. Although the goal of these studies was not to validate a clinically useful EGFR inhibition signature, the results confirm the hypothesis that clinically used EGFR inhibitors generate characteristic protein expression changes. This work further outlines a prototypical approach to derive and test protein expression signatures for drug action on signaling networks.
OBJECTIVE - Ménétrier's disease (MD) is a rare hypertrophic gastropathy characterised by giant rugal folds, hypochlorhydria, protein loss and a classic constellation of symptoms (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and peripheral oedema). It is considered a clinical diagnosis that may at times be difficult to establish. Firm diagnostic criteria for MD are proposed by delineating the clinicopathological features that best differentiate MD from its mimics.
METHOD - 48 patients referred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for consideration of enrolment in a clinical trial of treatment of patients with MD with cetuximab were evaluated for a definitive diagnosis by assessing the clinical presentation, pertinent laboratory values and histopathological features.
RESULTS - MD was confirmed in 25 of the 48 patients (52%). The remaining 23 patients were considered to be mimics of MD, the most common diagnoses being gastric polyps or polyposis syndromes (13/23, 57%). Gastric slides were available from 40 of the 48 patients for detailed histological analysis (22/25 MD and 18/23 non-MD). Foveolar hyperplasia, glandular tortuosity and dilation, and a marked reduction in parietal cell number were present in all 22 cases of MD. Lamina propria smooth muscle hyperplasia and oedema characterised most cases (18/22 and 19/22, respectively). More than half had prominent eosinophils (11/22) and/or plasma cells (12/22) in the lamina propria. The clinical presentation of patients with MD was characterised by significantly younger age of onset, male predominance and increased vomiting compared with non-MD patients, and a lower prevalence of anaemia compared with MD patients with polyps. There was a trend towards increased frequency of peripheral oedema in patients with MD compared with non-MD patients.
CONCLUSIONS - MD is most accurately diagnosed by clinicohistopathological analysis including oesophagogastroduodenoscopy with gastric pH, appropriate laboratory tests (complete blood count, serum albumin, serum gastrin, Helicobacter pylori and cytomegalovirus serology) and full-thickness mucosal biopsy of the involved gastric mucosa.
Ménétrier's disease is a rare premalignant disorder of the stomach with no proven effective medical therapy. Increased epidermal growth factor receptor signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Ménétrier's disease. We conducted a single-arm clinical trial with cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody that blocks epidermal growth factor receptor signaling, in nine individuals with clinically and histologically documented severe Ménétrier's disease that impaired quality of life to the extent that gastrectomy was being considered. Of the seven patients who completed the 1-month course of treatment, all showed statistically significant improvement both clinically (quality-of-life indices) and biochemically (increased parietal cell mass and gastric acidity). Furthermore, all seven patients who completed the 1-month trial elected to continue treatment, and four subsequently showed near-complete histological remission. Cetuximab should be considered as first-line therapy for Ménétrier's disease.
Ménétrier disease and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are hyperproliferative disorders of the stomach caused by dysregulated receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). In Ménétrier disease, overexpression of TGF-alpha, a ligand for the RTK EGFR, results in selective expansion of surface mucous cells in the body and fundus of the stomach. In GISTs, somatic mutations of the genes encoding the RTK KIT (or PDGFRA in a minority of cases) result in constitutive kinase activity and neoplastic transformation of gut pacemaker cells (interstitial cells of Cajal). On the basis of the involvement of these RTKs in the pathogenesis of these disorders, Ménétrier disease patients have been effectively treated with a blocking monoclonal antibody specific for EGFR and GIST patients with KIT and PDGFRA tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Ménétrier's disease is a rare premalignant hypertrophic gastropathy characterized by large rugal folds, foveolar hyperplasia with glandular atrophy, hypochlorhydria, and hypoalbuminemia. Patients with severe disease often exhibit refractory nausea and vomiting and require gastrectomy. Evidence from both mice and human beings suggests a critical role for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling in the pathogenesis of this disease. We previously reported significant clinical and biochemical improvement of a single patient treated for 1 month with Erbitux, a monoclonal antibody that blocks ligand binding to EGFR.
METHODS/RESULTS - We describe 2 patients who were given longer-term treatment with Erbitux as an alternative to gastrectomy. The first patient presented with nausea, hypoalbuminemia, and peripheral edema that required total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and infusions of albumin. On institution of Erbitux, there was rapid improvement in nausea and vomiting and stabilization of serum albumin with discontinuation of TPN and albumin infusions. Serum albumin remained stable during a 1-year course of Erbitux without supplemental protein. Application before and after Erbitux of the radiopaque dye ruthenium red to biopsies of the gastric oxyntic gland mucosa demonstrated prompt and persistent closure of tight junctions by electron microscopy. The second patient presented with chronic gastric bleeding that required bimonthly blood transfusions. During a 4-month course of Erbitux, his hematocrit stabilized, and transfusion requirements were eliminated.
CONCLUSIONS - The present report demonstrates the efficacy of prolonged Erbitux therapy in patients with different presentations of severe Ménétrier's disease and also provides insight into the pathophysiology of the protein-losing gastropathy.
BACKGROUND & AIMS - Increase of intramucosal transforming growth factor alpha (TGFalpha) levels in the gastric fundus leads to oxyntic atrophy and massive foveolar hyperplasia in both metallothionein (MT)-TGFalpha mice and patients with Ménétrier's disease. We have evaluated the hypothesis that increased levels of TGFalpha in the fundus induces an antral pattern of cell differentiation in fundic glands by studying Pdx1, a transcription factor whose expression normally is confined to the gastric antrum.
METHODS - Induction of Pdx1 expression was evaluated in Pdx1(lacZ/+)/MT-TGFalpha bigenic mice treated with zinc. The distribution of Pdx1 in MT-TGFalpha mice and Ménétrier's disease patients was evaluated with anti-Pdx1 antibodies. Transcript levels were evaluated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction in mouse and human tissues and AGS cells.
RESULTS - In Pdx1(lacZ/+) mice, Pdx1 was expressed in antral mucosal cells including gastrin cells and TFF2-expressing deep glandular mucous cells. Zinc treatment for 2 to 8 weeks in Pdx1(lacZ/+)/MT-TGFalpha transgenic mice resulted in expression of Pdx1 throughout the fundus. No ectopic fundic Pdx1 expression was observed in either H. felis-infected or DMP777-treated mice. In MT-TGFalpha mice, 8 weeks of zinc treatment elicited nuclear Pdx1 staining throughout the fundic mucosa. TGFalpha treatment in AGS cells led to increases in Pdx1 and gastrin messenger RNA expression. Fundic sections from Ménétrier's disease patients showed nuclear Pdx1 staining throughout the fundic glands. Treatment of a Ménétrier's disease patient with an anti-epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibody reduced fundic expression of both Pdx1 and gastrin.
CONCLUSIONS - Overexpression of TGFalpha in MT-TGFalpha mice and Ménétrier's disease patients elicits ectopic expression in the fundus of Pdx1, consistent with the phenotype of antralization.
The gastric mucosa maintains its integrity despite the harsh environment of an acidic luminal pH and strong mechanical stresses secondary to peristalsis of ingested contents. The mucosa has marshalled a battery of both protective and reparative mechanisms which, in general, prevent the deleterious effects of these factors that, if unchecked, may result in untoward consequences such as gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. An increasing body of evidence suggests that transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF alpha) produced by the gastric mucosa is a critical mediator of gastric mucosal homeostasis. TGF alpha inhibits acid secretion, stimulates mucosal restitution after injury (cell migration and proliferation), and augments gastric mucin levels. We review the data that support a role for this endogenously produced growth factor in both protective and reparative actions in the stomach. In addition, we discuss a possible role for overproduction of TGF alpha in the pathogenesis of Ménétrier's disease, a premalignant disorder of the stomach characterized by fundic gland hyperplasia, hypochlorhydria, increased gastric mucus, and hypoalbuminemia.