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Br J Cancer. 2000 Jul;83(2):171-6.

Limited neuropeptide Y precursor processing in unfavourable metastatic neuroblastoma tumours.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is found at high concentrations in neural crest-derived tumours and has been implicated as a regulatory peptide in tumour growth and differentiation. Neuroblastomas, ganglioneuromas and phaeochromocytomas with significant concentrations of NPY-like immunoreactivity were investigated for different molecular forms of NPY and for significance of proNPY processing. Gel-permeation chromatography identified intact NPY (1-36) in all tumours, whereas proNPY (69 amino acids) was detected only in control adrenal tissue and malignant neuroblastomas. Purification of NPY-like immunoreactivity in tumour extracts and structural characterization revealed that both NPY (1-36) and the truncated form NPY (3-36) was present. The degree of processing of proNPY to NPY in tumour tissue was lower in advanced neuroblastomas with regional or metastatic spread (stage 3 and 4) (n = 6), (41%, 12-100%, median, range), compared to the less aggressive stage 1, 2 and 4S tumours (n = 12), (93%; 69-100%), (P= 0.012). ProNPY processing of less than 50% was correlated with poor clinical outcome (P = 0.004). MYCN oncogene amplification was also correlated to a low degree of proNPY processing (P = 0.025). In summary, a low degree of proNPY processing was correlated to clinical advanced stage and poor outcome in neuroblastomas. ProNPY/NPY processing generated molecular forms of NPY with known differences in NPY-receptor selectivity, implicating a potential for in vivo modulation of NPY-like effects in tumour tissue.

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