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J Hepatol. 2004 Jul;41(1):112-8.

Differential expression of somatostatin receptor subtypes in hepatocellular carcinomas.

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  • 1Medizinische Klinik I, Zentrum für Innere Medizin, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistrasse 52, 20246 Hamburg, Germany. blaeker@uke.uni-hamburg.de



Somatostatin analogues inhibit cell proliferation by stimulation of distinct somatostatin receptor (SSTR) subtypes. In recent years, these compounds have been introduced into the therapy of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The efficacy of this treatment is under debate due to the controversial results of clinical trials. Despite the widespread clinical use of somatostatin analogues in HCC, little is known about the expression of each of the five SSTRs in these tumors.


We analyzed the expression of SSTR subtypes in 56 HCCs by immunohistochemistry using subtype-specific antibodies. Six of the samples were also investigated by RT-PCR using subtype-specific oligonucleotide primers.


HCCs display differential, individual expression patterns as well as variable expression levels for SSTRs. The overall expression rate of SSTR1, SSTR2, SSTR3, SSTR4, and SSTR5 is 46, 41, 64, 0, and 75%, respectively. No significant correlation was observed between SSTR expression and tumor stage, differentiation, histological tumor type, or underlying liver disease.


Individual patterns and levels of SSTR expression might determine the response to treatment with somatostatin analogues in HCC. Selective treatment of these tumors based on the analysis of SSTR subtype expression might lead to an increase in response rates.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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