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Lab Invest. 2004 Jan;84(1):71-80.

Neuropeptide Y receptor expression in human primary ovarian neoplasms.

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Division of Cell Biology and Experimental Cancer Research, Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


Peptide hormone receptors overexpressed in human malignant neoplasms are potential targets for diagnostic scintigraphy and radiotherapy. One such receptor is the neuropeptide Y (NPY) receptor, mediating primarily feeding behavior in the brain but shown recently to play a role in breast cancer. In this study, the presence of NPY receptors was evaluated in another group of gynecological tumors, namely ovarian tumors, using in vitro receptor autoradiography with (125)I-labeled peptide YY and receptor subtype selective analogs. Remarkably, all 10 investigated inhibin-expressing granulosa cell tumors, Leydig cell tumors, and Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors expressed NPY receptors. In contrast, receptors were found in only seven of 22 ovarian adenocarcinomas (32%). Pharmacological characterization of the expressed NPY receptor subtypes in the various tumors revealed the presence of Y1, Y2, or both. In addition, Y1 receptors were observed in intra- and peritumoral blood vessels as well. NPY receptors were not expressed in three ovarian adenomas, three borderline tumors, four fibromas and fibrothecomas, and one dysgerminoma. This is the first time that NPY receptors are described in human ovarian tissue. They may play a role in the pathogenesis and also in the pathophysiology of ovarian malignancies. Moreover, the high incidence and density of NPY receptors in sex cord-stromal tumors suggest that these receptors represent a new potential target for the diagnostic and therapeutic administration of NPY analogs in these tumors.

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