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Br J Cancer. 2002 Jan 7;86(1):117-22.

Galanin and galanin receptor expression in neuroblastic tumours: correlation with their differentiation status.

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Laboratory of Differentiation and Development Biology, EA DRED 483, University of Bordeaux 2, 146, rue Leo Saignat, 33076 Bordeaux Cedex, France.


Neuroblastoma and its benign differentiated counterpart, ganglioneuroma, are paediatric neuroblastic tumours arising in the sympathetic nervous system. Their broad spectrum of clinical virulence is mainly related to heterogeneous biologic background and tumour differentiation. Neuroblastic tumours synthesize various neuropeptides acting as neuromodulators. Previous studies suggested that galanin plays a role in sympathetic tissue where it could be involved in differentiation and development. We investigated the expression and distribution of galanin and its three known receptors (Gal-R1, Gal-R2, Gal-R3) in 19 samples of neuroblastic tumours tissue by immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization and fluorescent-ligand binding. This study provides clear evidence for galanin and galanin receptor expression in human neuroblastic tumours. The messengers coding for galanin, Gal-R1 and -R3 were highly expressed in neuroblastoma and their amount dramatically decreased in ganglioneuroma. In contrast, Gal-R2 levels remained unchanged. Double labelling studies showed that galanin was mainly co-expressed with its receptors whatever the differentiation stage. In neuroblastic tumours, galanin might promote cell-survival or counteract neuronal differentiation through the different signalling pathways mediated by galanin receptors. Finally, our results suggest that galanin influences neuroblastoma growth and development as an autocrine/paracrine modulator. These findings suggest potential critical implications for galanin in neuroblastic tumours development.

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