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Neuroendocrinology. 2009;89(3):308-14. doi: 10.1159/000179899. Epub 2009 Mar 23.

Expression of somatostatin and dopamine 2 receptors in neuroendocrine tumours and the potential role for new biotherapies.

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Neuroendocrine Tumour Unit, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK.



Somatostatin and dopamine receptors are both G-protein-coupled receptors. Somatostatin receptor (SSTR) expression in neuroendocrine tumours has been well characterised, and there is evidence of dopamine receptor expression in neuroendocrine tumours. In this study, we examined expression of D2R, SSTR-2 and SSTR-5 using immunohistochemistry in patients with neuroendocrine tumours.


Consecutive samples of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumour tissue were available from 56 patients with a histologically confirmed diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumour (NET). The study population was divided into low-grade (n = 29), intermediate-grade (n = 18) and high-grade NET (n = 9). Immunohistochemical evaluation was performed for the expression of SSTR-2a, SSTR-5 and D2 receptors (D2R).


Both SSTR-2 and SSTR-5 were expressed in 100% of low-grade, 94.4% of intermediate-grade and 66.7% of high-grade NET. D2R was expressed in 93.1% of low-grade, 77.8% of intermediate-grade and 44.4% of high-grade tumours. Co-expression of all 3 receptors was present in 93.1% of low-grade tumours. There was an inverse correlation of SSTR-2 (r = -0.380, p < 0.005) and SSTR-5 (r = -0.472, p < 0.0001) with tumour grade. D2R was positively correlated with SSTR-2 (r = 0.269, p = 0.041) and SSTR-5 (r = 0.267, p = 0.045). Also, D2R expression was inversely correlated with grade of tumour (r = 0.395, p = 0.006). Octreoscan correlated with SSTR-2, SSTR-5 and D2R expression.


D2R is expressed in the majority of low and intermediate grade tumours. It is co-expressed with SSTR-2 and SSTR-5 in the majority of cases. The advent of new chimeric molecules that bind both somatostatin and dopamine receptors may provide a new therapeutic option in the management of neuroendocrine patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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