Gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor levels and cell context affect tumor cell responses to agonist in vitro and in vivo

K Morgan, Alan J. Stewart, NA Miller, Peter Mullen, M Muir, M Dodds, F Medda, David James Harrison, S Langdon, RP Millar

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42 Citations (Scopus)


Activation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptors inhibits proliferation of transformed cells derived from reproductive tissues and in transfected cell lines. Hence, GnRH receptors represent a therapeutic target for direct action of GnRH analogues on certain proliferating cells. However, more cell biological data are required to develop this particular application of GnRH analogues. Therefore, we compared the effects of GnRH receptor activation in transfected HEK293 cells (HEK293([SCL60])) with transfected human ovarian cancer cell lines SKOV3 and EFO21, human hepatoblastoma HepG2 cells, and rat neuroblastoma B35 cells. Marked differences in receptor levels, magnitude of inositol phosphate generation, and dynamics of inositol phosphate turnover occurred in the different cells. Activation of GnRH receptors, expressed at high or moderate levels, inhibited the growth of HEK293([SCL60]) and B35 cells, respectively. Western blotting detected markers of apoptosis [cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, caspase-9] in HEK293([SCL60]) and B35 following treatment with 100 nmol/L d-Trp(6)-GnRH-I. Cell growth inhibition was partially or completely rescued with inhibitor Q-VD-OPh or Ro32-0432. Low levels of GnRH receptor expression in transfected SKOV3, EFO21, or HepG2 activated intracellular signaling but did not induce apoptosis or significantly affect cell proliferation. Tumor xenografts prepared from HEK293([SCL60]) regressed during treatment with d-Trp(6)-GnRH-I and growth of xenografts derived from transfected B35 was slowed. SKOV3 xenografts were not growth inhibited. Therefore, differences in levels of GnRH receptor and signaling differentially affect the apoptotic machinery within cell lines and contribute to the cell type-specific effects of GnRH on growth. Further studies should exploit the growth-inhibitory potential of GnRH receptor activation in abnormal cells in diseased human tissues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6331-6340
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • Ovarian-cancer cells
  • Protein-kinase
  • Breast-cancer
  • Recombinant adenovirus
  • Growth-inhibition
  • Human endometrial
  • Gnrh receptor
  • HEK-293 cells
  • Expression
  • Carcinoma


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