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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Feb;83(2):708-11.

Human lymphocytes produce urocortin, but not corticotropin-releasing hormone.

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  • 1IHF, Institute for Hormone and Fertility Research, University of Hamburg, University Clinic Eppendorf, Dept. of Medicine, Germany.


Hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is the principal regulator of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in mammals. In addition, immunoreactive CRH is also present at peripheral sites, where it is thought to act as a proinflammatory peptide. However, the source of peripheral CRH has remained obscure. Human lymphocytes were shown to produce immunoreactive CRH, yet the data on CRH mRNA expression in these cells are equivocal. More recently, Vaughan et al. discovered a new member of the CRH family, termed urocortin. Urocortin was shown to act through the same receptors as CRH. The current study was designed to investigate both mRNA and protein expression of CRH and urocortin in human lymphocytes. Using a commercial CRH(1-41) radioimmunoassay, we demonstrate that normal human lymphocytes and Jurkat T lymphoma cells produce significant amounts of immunoreactive peptide. However, no CRH mRNA was detectable by RT-PCR in these cells. In contrast, a band of the correct size and sequence was amplified with urocortin-specific primers. Immunocytochemical analysis of human lymphocytes using antibodies that could distinguish between CRH and urocortin revealed significant expression of urocortin but not of CRH, consistent with our RT-PCR data. We conclude that human lymphocytes produce urocortin, but not CRH.

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