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Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Aug 15;14(16):5043-9. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-4551.

High expression of neuropeptide Y1 receptors in ewing sarcoma tumors.

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  • 1Division of Cell Biology and Experimental Cancer Research, Institute of Pathology of the University of Berne, Murtenstrasse 31, Berne, Switzerland.



Peptide receptors are frequently overexpressed in human tumors, allowing receptor-targeted scintigraphic imaging and therapy with radiolabeled peptide analogues. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) receptors are new candidates for these applications, based on their high expression in specific cancers. Because NPY receptors are expressed in selected sarcoma cell lines and because novel treatment options are needed for sarcomas, this study assessed the NPY receptor in primary human sarcomas.


Tumor tissues of 88 cases, including Ewing sarcoma family of tumors (ESFT), synovial sarcomas, osteosarcomas, chondrosarcomas, liposarcomas, angiosarcomas, rhabdomyosarcomas, leiomyosarcomas, and desmoid tumors, were investigated for NPY receptor protein with in vitro receptor autoradiography using (125)I-labeled NPY receptor ligands and for NPY receptor mRNA expression with in situ hybridization.


ESFT expressed the NPY receptor subtype Y1 on tumor cells in remarkably high incidence (84%) and density (mean, 5,314 dpm/mg tissue). Likewise, synovial sarcomas expressed Y1 on tumor cells in high density (mean, 7,497 dpm/mg; incidence, 40%). The remaining tumors expressed NPY receptor subtypes Y1 or Y2 at lower levels. Moreover, many of the sarcomas showed Y1 expression on intratumoral blood vessels. In situ hybridization for Y1 mRNA confirmed the autoradiography results.


NPY receptors are novel molecular markers for human sarcomas. Y1 may inhibit growth of specific sarcomas, as previously shown in an in vivo mouse model of human ESFT. The high Y1 expression on tumor cells of ESFT and synovial sarcomas and on blood vessels in many other sarcomas represents an attractive basis for an in vivo tumor targeting.

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