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Cancer Res. 1999 Feb 1;59(3):720-7.

Expression of endothelin 1 and endothelin A receptor in ovarian carcinoma: evidence for an autocrine role in tumor growth.

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Laboratory of Molecular Pathology, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.


In the present study, we have investigated the expression of endothelin 1 (ET-1) and the ET(A) receptor (ET(A)R) and ET(B) receptor (ET(B)R) in primary (n = 30) and metastatic (n = 8) ovarian carcinomas and their involvement in tumor growth. By reverse transcription-PCR and Northern blot analysis, we detected ET-1 mRNA in 90% of primary and 100% of metastatic ovarian carcinomas. ET-1 mRNA expression was significantly higher in tumors than in normal ovarian tissues (n = 12; P < 0.01). ET(A)R mRNA was also detected in 84% of the carcinomas examined, whereas ET(B)R mRNA was expressed in 50% of the tumors. The in vivo presence of mature ET-1 and ET(A)R was confirmed by immunohistochemistry, demonstrating a higher expression in primary and metastatic cells. Ten primary cultures of ovarian tumors secreted ET-1 and were positive for ET-1 and ET(A)R mRNA, whereas only 40% expressed ET(B)R mRNA. Radioligand binding studies showed that ET-1-producing cells also expressed functional ET(A)R, whereas no specific ET(B)R could be demonstrated. ET-1 stimulated dose-dependent [3H]thymidine incorporation and enhanced the mitogenic effect of epidermal growth factor. The ET(A)R-selective antagonist BQ 123 strongly inhibited ET-1-stimulated growth and substantially reduced the basal growth rate of unstimulated cells, whereas the ET(B)R-selective antagonist BQ 788 had no effect. In conclusion, the present data demonstrate a novel mechanism in the growth control of ovarian carcinoma in vivo mediated by the ET-1 autocrine loop that selectively occurs via the ET(A)R.

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