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Cancer Res. 1995 Apr 1;55(7):1479-84.

Expression and secretion of the beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin by bladder carcinoma in vivo and in vitro.

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Hyogo Institute of Clinical Research, Akashi, Japan.


Expression and secretion of the beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) by bladder carcinoma cell lines were investigated in vitro and in vivo. As an in vitro study, immunoreactive hCG beta (IR-hCG beta) secreted into the culture media of two bladder transitional cell lines (KoTCC-1 and HT-1197) was analyzed using three kinds of enzyme immunoassays which were specific for intact hCG, free hCG beta, and beta core fragment (beta-CF). Both of the cell lines were determined to secrete IR-hCG beta into the media, which consisted principally of free hCG beta, but detectable levels of intact hCG and beta-CF were not present in the media. Northern blot analysis revealed that the hCG beta gene was expressed in both KoTCC-1 and HT-1197 cells where the sizes of mRNA from these cells were smaller than those from placental and NJG choriocarcinoma cells. As an in vivo study, distribution of IR-hCG beta was analyzed in the tumor tissues, sera, and urine of the mice and the rats transplanted with KoTCC-1 cells. By the immunohistochemical study, the IR-hCG beta was clearly observed in transitional cell carcinoma cells of the transplanted tumor. High levels of IR-hCG beta were detected in both the serum and urine from the animals, but there were quantitative and qualitative differences between serum and urinary IR-hCG beta. Quantitatively, the concentrations of IR-hCG beta in the urine were consistently much higher than those in the serum. Qualitatively, free hCG beta was exclusively detected in the serum whereas high levels of beta-CF in addition to free hCG beta were found in the urine. Intact hCG could not be detected in the serum and urine. These distributions of IR-hCG beta in the animals transplanted with KoTCC-1 cells were completely analogous to those in a patient with hCG beta-producing bladder carcinoma. The present study shows that the same metabolic pathway of IR-hCG beta is operating in mice and rats as in humans, indicating that IR-hCG beta found in patients with bladder carcinoma originates from the tumor and it may be recognized as a tumor marker when beta-CF is measured in the patient's urine.

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