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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Sep 3;99(18):11866-71. Epub 2002 Aug 19.

The expression of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) and splice variants of its receptor in human gastroenteropancreatic carcinomas.

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Endocrine, Polypeptide, and Cancer Institute, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Section of Experimental Medicine, Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.


Splice variants (SVs) of receptors for growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) have been found in primary human prostate cancers and diverse human cancer cell lines. GHRH antagonists inhibit growth of various experimental human cancers, including pancreatic and colorectal, xenografted into nude mice or cultured in vitro, and their antiproliferative action could be mediated in part through SVs of GHRH receptors. In this study we examined the expression of mRNA for GHRH and for SVs of its receptors in tumors of human pancreatic, colorectal, and gastric cancer cell lines grown in nude mice. mRNA for both GHRH and SV(1) isoform of GHRH receptors was expressed in tumors of pancreatic (SW1990, PANC-1, MIA PaCa-2, Capan-1, Capan-2, and CFPAC1), colonic (COLO 320DM and HT-29), and gastric (NCI-N87, HS746T, and AGS) cancer cell lines; mRNA for SV(2) was also present in Capan-1, Capan-2, CFPAC1, HT-29, and NCI-N87 tumors. In proliferation studies in vitro, the growth of pancreatic, colonic, and gastric cancer cells was stimulated by GHRH(1-29)NH(2) and inhibited by GHRH antagonist JV-1-38. The stimulation of some gastroenteropancreatic cancer cells by GHRH was followed by an increase in cAMP production, and GHRH antagonist JV-1-38 competitively inhibited this effect. Our study indicates the presence of an autocrine/paracrine stimulatory loop based on GHRH and SV(1) of GHRH receptors in human pancreatic, colorectal, and gastric cancers. The finding of SV(1) receptor in human cancers provides an approach to an antitumor therapy based on the blockade of this receptor by specific GHRH antagonists.

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