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Endocrinology. 1998 Feb;139(2):713-22.

KAT45, a noradrenergic human pheochromocytoma cell line producing corticotropin-releasing hormone.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Chemistry, University of Crete School of Medicine, Greece.


KAT45 cells were derived from a human pheochromocytoma, which also caused ectopic Cushing's syndrome, and developed into a cell line spontaneously after the continuous primary culture of the tumor cells. These human pheochromocytoma cells were compared with the extensively characterized PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cell line. KAT45 cells resembled PC12 cells in morphology, proliferation rate, response to cholinergic stimuli, and the development of dendrite-like projections after exposure to nerve growth factor. They produced norepinephrine and epinephrine in a ratio of 50:1, as opposed to production of dopamine by PC12 cells, in amounts 1 order of magnitude higher compared with PC12. Because of the ectopic Cushing's syndrome in our patient, her normal ACTH level, and the knowledge that PC12 cells and even normal rat chromaffin cells appear to produce CRH, we examined whether KAT45 cells also produced this neuropeptide. Indeed, KAT45 cells released authentic CRH and contained an apparently intact CRH transcript. Nicotine and KCl depolarization stimulated the secretion of CRH, whereas interleukin-1beta, glucocorticoids, and nerve growth factor stimulated its synthesis. In addition to the potential systemic effects of CRH, which in our patient produced ectopic Cushing's syndrome, CRH can exert paracrine effects within normal or tumoral adrenals. We used KAT45 cells as a model for the study of the local role of CRH. CRH affected several parameters of KAT45 cell metabolism, including their proliferation rate, synthesis of catecholamines, and production of POMC-derived peptides. KAT45 cells, in addition to the data they provided regarding the in vitro profile of a human CRH-producing pheochromocytoma, may prove to be a valuable auxiliary to the PC12 cell line.

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