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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2007 Jan 29;264(1-2):44-9. Epub 2006 Nov 9.

Evidence that corticotropin-releasing hormone inhibits cell growth of human breast cancer cells via the activation of CRH-R1 receptor subtype.

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Pharmacology and Medical Oncology Section, Department of Neuroscience, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


It has been previously shown that corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) exerts antiproliferative activity on an estrogen-dependent tumor cell line, i.e. human endometrial adenocarcinoma Ishikawa (IK) cells. Here we have investigated the effects of CRH on another estrogen-dependent tumor cell line, human breast cancer MCF7 cells. In this paradigm, CRH given at a fixed concentration of 100 nM significantly inhibited cell growth induced by 100 nM estradiol (E2) after 48 and 72 h of incubation. This effect was not associated with the induction of apoptosis. CRH inhibition of cell proliferation was counteracted in a concentration-dependent manner by the non-selective CRH receptor antagonist, astressin, as well as by a CRH-R1 selective receptor antagonist, antalarmin. RNase protection assays carried out on MCF7 under basal conditions showed that these cells express in a constitutive manner the CRH-R1 receptor subtype. We have also investigated the putative source of CRH acting on breast cancer cells; we found that MCF7 cells express CRH mRNA under basal conditions and secrete sizable amounts of immunoreactive CRH, which leads to postulate the existence of paracrine-autocrine inhibitory mechanism operated by CRH in breast cancer cells.

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