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Br J Cancer. 1999 Sep;81(1):75-9.

Human germ cell tumours: expression of gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase and sensitivity to cisplatin.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


Previous studies have shown that the enzyme-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) is essential for the nephrotoxicity of cisplatin. This study was designed to determine whether GGT activity is necessary for the therapeutic effect of the drug. The relationship between GGT expression and clinical response to platinum-based chemotherapy was examined in 41 human germ cell tumours. Sections of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumours were immunohistochemically stained with an antibody directed against human GGT. There was no expression of GGT in any of the 17 seminomas or four dysgerminomas; whereas, 12/12 ovarian yolk sac tumours and 4/4 embryonal carcinomas of the testis were GGT-positive. In stage I tumours fewer tumour cells expressed GGT than in later stage tumours. In four germ cell tumours of mixed histology, the seminomatous and dysgerminoma areas were GGT-negative while the areas of the tumour with yolk sac or embryonal histology contained GGT-positive tumour cells. The patients with seminomas or dysgerminomas who were treated with cisplatin-based chemotherapy, all had a complete response despite the absence of GGT expression in these tumours. Fifteen of the 16 patients with yolk sac or embryonal carcinomas received cisplatin-based chemotherapy following surgery. Twelve had a complete response, while three failed to respond to platinum-based therapy. There was no correlation between the level of GGT-expression and response to therapy in this group. Three of the four patients with tumours of mixed histology were treated with cisplatin-based therapy, and had a complete response. Therefore, expression of GGT is not necessary for the therapeutic effect of cisplatin in germ cell tumours. The results from this study suggest that systemic inhibition of GGT would inhibit the nephrotoxic side-effect of cisplatin without interfering with its activity towards germ cell tumours.

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