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Eur J Clin Invest. 1995 Dec;25(12):899-905.

Circulating and tissue guanylin immunoreactivity in intestinal secretory diarrhoea.

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Lower Saxony Institute for Peptide Research, Hannover, Germany.


Guanylin is a recently discovered peptide hormone that activates intestinal guanylate cyclase (GC-C) and thereby stimulates intestinal chloride secretion. Immunohistochemistry showed its presence in enterochromaffin (EC) cells of the gut. In vitro studies suggested that guanylin plays an important role in the endogenous modulation of intestinal salt and water secretion. In the present study the concentration of circulating immunoreactive (IR)-guanylin in plasma of patients with intestinal diarrhoea due to chronic bowel inflammation and patients with carcinoid tumours were measured with a specific radioimmunoassay. In 22 patients with Crohn's disease and eight patients with ulcerative colitis, plasma concentrations of IR-guanylin were 44 +/- 3 and 42 +/- 4 fmol mL-1, respectively. Levels were not different from that in 44 healthy volunteers suggesting that the circulating hormone is not involved in diarrhoea of these patients. In 17 patients with symptomatic carcinoid tumors the median concentration of circulating IR-guanylin was significantly enhanced (94 +/- 16 fmol mL-1, range 37-312 fmol mL-1). Immunohistochemistry revealed the presence of immunoreactive guanylin in carcinoid tissues, suggesting that these tumours co-release guanylin along with their usual resident hormone, serotonin. Enhanced local secretion of guanylin may play a causal role in diarrhoea of these patients and its elevation in plasma may be of diagnostic value in this type of endocrine tumours.

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