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MEN stands for multiple endocrine neoplasia. These are a group of syndromes all having autosomal dominant inheritance with high penetrance.

Werner Syndrome
Pituitary adenomas
Pancreas islet cell tumors
Parathyroid hyperplasia/adenomas
Peptic ulcers with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
Bronchial and thymic carcinoid
Adrenal cortical adenoma
Thyroid follicular adenoma
Sipple Syndrome
Thyroid C cell hyperplasia and medullary carcinoma of the thyroid
Adrenal Pheochromocytomas and medullary hyperplasia
Parathyroid hyperplasia/adenoma
IIB Thyroid C cell hyperplasia and medullary carcinoma of the thyroid
Adrenal medullary hyperplasia
Gastrointestinal and ocular-cutaneous ganglioneuromatosis


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Clinical presentations and RET protooncogene mutations in seven multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 kindreds.

Blank RD, Sklar CA, Dimich AB, LaQuaglia MP, Brennan MF.

Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.

Cancer 1996 Nov 1;78(9):1996-2003 Abstract quote

BACKGROUND: Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) is a group of related autosomal dominant cancer syndromes caused by mutations in the RET protooncogene. A subset of familial Hirschsprung's disease, aganglionic megacolon, is also caused by mutations in this gene.

METHODS: The authors performed mutation analysis of exons 10, 11, 13, and 16 of the RET gene is six established MTN 2 kindreds and in six patients with apparent sporadic disease, in order to correlate their genotypes and phenotypes.

RESULTS: One of these kindred's carried both Hirschsprung's disease and MEN 2A in conjunction with a cysteine-to-arginine substitution of codon 620 of the RET gene. One patient with apparently sporadic disease was found to have a germline M918T mutation. Patients with confirmed familial disease all carried pathologic germline mutations of RET.

CONCLUSIONS: Several lines of evidence support a gain of function mechanism for tumorigenesis in the MEN 2 syndromes but a loss of function mechanism for aganglionosis in Hirschsprung's disease. The authors propose that a multihit mechanism can reconcile the apparent paradox of a single mutation that gives rise to both gain and loss of function disorders in a single patient.

A nationwide clinical survey of patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma in Japan.

Iihara M, Yamashita T, Okamoto T, Kanbe M, Yamazaki K, Egawa S, Yamaguchi K, Obara T.

Department of Endocrine Surgery, Tokyo Women's Medical College, Japan.

Jpn J Clin Oncol 1997 Jun;27(3):128-34 Abstract quote

MEN (multiple endocrine neoplasia) type 2 syndrome is an inherited disease characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma, pheochromocytoma, hyperparathyroidism and/or developmental anomalies. Germ-line mutations of the RET proto-oncogene have recently been identified as the underlying cause of the syndrome. Accordingly, several investigators have advocated prophylactic total thyroidectomy for medullary thyroid carcinoma at an early age in MEN 2 gene carriers identified by DNA analysis. Before applying this strategy in Japan, the biological behavior of each category of tumor in MEN 2 syndrome, and medullary thyroid carcinoma in particular, should be well understood.

We conducted a nationwide questionnaire survey to clarify the clinicopathological features of MEN 2 in Japan, obtaining data for 230 patients diagnosed as having MEN 2. They included 84 males and 146 females, with a median age of 37.5 years (range 5-83).

Patients were categorized as 179 with MEN 2A, 17 with MEN 2B, 12 with familial medullary thyroid carcinoma and 22 'other'. Medullary thyroid carcinoma, pheochromocytoma and parathyroid lesions occurred in 224 (97%), 132 (57%) and 25 (11%) patients respectively. Twelve patients (5.2%) died of medullary thyroid carcinoma and 11 patients died of other or unknown causes. Of 163 patients for whom follow-up data were obtained, 82 (50%) experienced recurrences of medullary thyroid carcinoma, including symptomatic recurrent tumors in 24 patients and elevated calcitonin levels alone in 54.

In the era of RET mutational analysis for screening relatives of patients with MEN 2, these data provide useful information about surgical management for patients with MEN 2 in Japan.

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 syndromes may be associated with renal malformations.

Lore F, Talidis F, Di Cairano G, Renieri A.

Endocrinology Unit, University of Siena, Italy.

J Intern Med 2001 Jul;250(1):37-42 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVE: The RET proto-oncogene is known to be the susceptibility gene for various disease phenotypes, including multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2). Recent studies have also suggested an involvement of RET in the development of the mammalian kidney. Although kidney agenesis or dysgenesis has been observed in mice lacking functional ret, no clinically relevant kidney abnormalities have been reported in individuals with known RET mutations and familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC). We have studied a family with five members affected with isolated FMTC. DNA analysis was performed and the involved RET mutation was identified. Amongst these patients were a woman and her son.

DESIGN: Case report.

SETTING: University department.

PATIENTS: A 32-year-old woman and her son with FMTC and unilateral renal agenesis.

RESULTS: The woman's abdominal ultrasound findings demonstrated unilateral renal absence of the left kidney. Her son, when only a few months old, had undergone surgical treatment for Hirschsprung's disease. Abdominal ultrasonography was performed recently, and left-side renal absence was diagnosed. Intravenous pyelography confirmed the agenesis of his left kidney, whilst the contralateral kidney displayed compensatory hypertrophy.

CONCLUSIONS: The involvement of the RET proto-oncogene in the early growth and differentiation of the human kidney is now generally accepted. We believe that at least a proportion of patients with MEN 2 may have undiagnosed renal malformations. We suggest therefore that noninvasive imaging techniques, such as ultrasonography, should be used to explore the presence of renal abnormalities in subjects with demonstrated RET mutations.



The relationship between specific RET proto-oncogene mutations and disease phenotype in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2.

International RET mutation consortium analysis.

Eng C, Clayton D, Schuffenecker I, Lenoir G, Cote G, Gagel RF, van Amstel HK, Lips CJ, Nishisho I, Takai SI, Marsh DJ, Robinson BG, Frank-Raue K, Raue F, Xue F, Noll WW, Romei C, Pacini F, Fink M, Niederle B, Zedenius J, Nordenskjold M, Komminoth P, Hendy GN, Mulligan LM, et al.

Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Control, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115-6084, USA.

JAMA 1996 Nov 20;276(19):1575-9 Abstract quote

OBJECTIVE: Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) is an autosomal dominant disorder. The 3 recognized subtypes include MEN 2A, characterized by medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), pheochromocytoma (pheo), and hyperparathyroidism (HPT); MEN 2B, by MTC, pheo, and characteristic stigmata; and familial MTC (FMTC), by the presence of MTC only. The purpose of this study was to establish the relationship between specific mutations and the presence of certain disease features in MEN 2 which could help in clinical decision making.

DESIGN: Correlative survey study of 477 MEN 2 families.

SETTING: Eighteen tertiary referral centers worldwide.

PATIENTS: A total of 477 independent MEN 2 families.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Association between the position and type of germline mutation in the RET proto-oncogene and the presence or absence of MTC, pheo, HPT, and/or other features in a family.

RESULTS: There is a statistically significant association between the presence of any mutation at a specific position (codon 634) and the presence of pheo and HPT. The presence of a specific mutation, CGC at codon 634, has yet to be associated with FMTC. Conversely, mutations at codons 768 and 804 are thus far seen only with FMTC, while codon 918 mutation is MEN 2B--specific. Rare families with both MEN 2 and Hirschsprung disease were found to have MEN 2-specific codon mutations. Patients with Hirschsprung disease presenting with such mutations should be monitored for the possible development of MEN 2 tumors.

CONCLUSIONS: This consortium analysis suggests that genotype-phenotype correlations do exist and, if made reliably absolute, could prove useful in the future in clinical management with respect to screening, surveillance, and prophylaxis, as well as provide insight into the genetic effects of particular mutations.

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 and RET: from neoplasia to neurogenesis.

Hansford JR, Mulligan LM.

Department of Pathology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada.

J Med Genet 2000 Nov;37(11):817-27 ABSTRACT QUOTE

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2) is an inherited cancer syndrome characterised by medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), with or without phaeochromocytoma and hyperparathyroidism. MEN 2 is unusual among cancer syndromes as it is caused by activation of a cellular oncogene, RET. Germline mutations in the gene encoding the RET receptor tyrosine kinase are found in the vast majority of MEN 2 patients and somatic RET mutations are found in a subset of sporadic MTC. Further, there are strong associations of RET mutation genotype and disease phenotype in MEN 2 which have led to predictions of tissue specific requirements and sensitivities to RET activity.

Our ability to identify genetically, with high accuracy, subjects with MEN 2 has revolutionised our ability to diagnose, predict, and manage this disease. In the past few years, studies of RET and its normal ligand and downstream interactions and the signalling pathways it activates have clarified our understanding of the roles played by RET in normal cell survival, proliferation, and differentiation, as well as in disease.

Here, we review the current knowledge of the normal functions of RET and the effects of mutations of this gene in tumorigenesis and in normal development.


Familial multiple endocrine neoplasia: the first 100 years.

Carney JA.

From the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (Emeritus Member), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Am J Surg Pathol. 2005 Feb;29(2):254-74. Abstract quote

In 1903, Erdheim described the case of an acromegalic patient with a pituitary adenoma and three enlarged parathyroid glands. Fifty years later, Underdahl et al reported 8 patients with a syndrome of pituitary, parathyroid, and pancreatic islet adenomas. In 1954, Wermer found that the syndrome was transmitted as a dominant trait. In 1959, Hazard et al described medullary (solid) thyroid carcinoma (MTC), a tumor that later was found to be a component of two endocrine syndromes.

The first of these described by Sipple in 1961 comprised pheochromocytoma, MTC, and parathyroid adenoma. The second, described by Williams et al in 1966, was the combination of mucosal neuromas, pheochromocytoma, and MTC. In 1968, Steiner et al introduced the term "multiple endocrine neoplasia" (MEN) to describe disorders featuring combinations of endocrine tumors; they designated the Wermer syndrome as MEN 1 and the Sipple syndrome as MEN 2. In 1974, Sizemore et al concluded that the MEN 2 category included two groups of patients with MTC and pheochromocytoma: one with parathyroid disease and a normal appearance (MEN 2A) and the other without parathyroid disease but with mucosal neuromas and mesodermal abnormalities (MEN 2B).

Later, additional nonendocrine conditions (von Recklinghausen neurofibromatosis and von Hippel-Lindau disease) were found accompanying other more recently described familial MEN syndromes, indicating that these diseases are very complicated disorders.

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Last Updated February 18, 2005

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