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Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2003 Oct 7;1:65.

Role of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in ovarian cancer.

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  • 1Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Georg-August-University, Robert-Koch-Street 40, D-37075 Göttingen, Germany.


The expression of GnRH (GnRH-I, LHRH) and its receptor as a part of an autocrine regulatory system of cell proliferation has been demonstrated in a number of human malignant tumors, including cancers of the ovary. The proliferation of human ovarian cancer cell lines is time- and dose-dependently reduced by GnRH and its superagonistic analogs. The classical GnRH receptor signal-transduction mechanisms, known to operate in the pituitary, are not involved in the mediation of antiproliferative effects of GnRH analogs in these cancer cells. The GnRH receptor rather interacts with the mitogenic signal transduction of growth-factor receptors and related oncogene products associated with tyrosine kinase activity via activation of a phosphotyrosine phosphatase resulting in downregulation of cancer cell proliferation. In addition GnRH activates nucleus factor kappaB (NFkappaB) and protects the cancer cells from apoptosis. Furthermore GnRH induces activation of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase/activator protein-1 (JNK/AP-1) pathway independent of the known AP-1 activators, protein kinase (PKC) or mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK/ERK). Recently it was shown that human ovarian cancer cells express a putative second GnRH receptor specific for GnRH type II (GnRH-II). The proliferation of these cells is dose- and time-dependently reduced by GnRH-II in a greater extent than by GnRH-I (GnRH, LHRH) superagonists. In previous studies we have demonstrated that in ovarian cancer cell lines except for the EFO-27 cell line GnRH-I antagonist Cetrorelix has comparable antiproliferative effects as GnRH-I agonists indicating that the dichotomy of GnRH-I agonists and antagonists might not apply to the GnRH-I system in cancer cells. After GnRH-I receptor knock down the antiproliferative effects of GnRH-I agonist Triptorelin were abrogated while the effects of GnRH-I antagonist Cetrorelix and GnRH-II were still existing. In addition, in the ovarian cancer cell line EFO-27 GnRH-I receptor but not putative GnRH-II receptor expression was found. These data suggest that in ovarian cancer cells the antiproliferative effects of GnRH-I antagonist Cetrorelix and GnRH-II are not mediated through the GnRH-I receptor.

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