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Vitam Horm. 2008;77:301-24.

Ghrelin and prostate cancer.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Turin, 10126, Turin, Italy.


Ghrelin, a 28-amino acid octanoylated peptide predominantly produced by the stomach, has been discovered to be a natural ligand of the type 1a growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR1a). Ghrelin has recently attracted the interest as a new GH-releasing and orexigenic factor. However, ghrelin exerts several other activities, including regulation of tissue growth and development and control of neoplastic cell proliferation. Several endocrine and nonendocrine cancer cells (pituitary adenomas; gastroenteropancreatic and pulmonary carcinoids; colorectal neoplasms, thyroid tumors; lung, breast, and pancreatic carcinomas) as well as their related cell lines have been shown able to express ghrelin both at mRNA and at protein level. Many of the above-listed tumors express GHSR1a and/or alternative GHS receptor subtypes such as the type 1b GHSR, a truncated isoform of GHSR1a, and binding sites able to recognize ghrelin independently of its acylation. Evidence that ghrelin and multiple ghrelin/GHS receptors are coexpressed in cancer cell lines and tumoral tissues from organs, such as the breast, that do not express these receptors in physiological conditions suggests that the ghrelin system is likely to play an important autocrine/paracrine role in some cancers. This chapter highlights the evidence for the expression of ghrelin and its receptors in one of the most frequent human malignancies, the prostate cancer, and information regarding their potential functional role in related cell lines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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