Gastrin regulates growth of human pancreatic cancer in a tonic and autocrine fashion

Jill Palmer Smith, Alan Shih, Yan Wu, Patricia J. Mclaughlin, Ian S. Zagon

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71 Scopus citations


The gastrointestinal peptides gastrin and cholecystokinin (CCK) stimulate growth of human pancreatic cancer through a CCK-B/gastrin-like receptor. In the present study we evaluated whether growth of human pancreatic cancer is endogenously regulated by gastrin. Immunohistochemical examination of BxPC-3 cells and tumor xenografts revealed specific gastrin immunoreactivity. Gastrin was detected by radioimmunoassay in pancreatic cancer cell extracts and in the growth media. With use of reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction gastrin gene expression was detected in both cultured BxPC-3 cancer cells and transplanted tumors, as well as seven additional human pancreatic cancer cell lines. Growth of BxPC-3 human pancreatic cancer cells in serum- free medium was inhibited by the addition of the CCK-B/gastrin receptor antagonist L-365,260, and gastrin treatment reversed the inhibitory effect of the antagonist. A selective gastrin antibody (Ab 2604) also repressed growth of BxPC-3 cells. Gastrin immunoreactivity was detected in fresh human pancreatic cancer specimens but not in normal human pancreatic tissue. These data provide the first evidence that growth of a human pancreatic cancer is tonically stimulated by the autocrine production of gastrin. Evidence for the ubiquity of this system was provided by the detection of gastrin gene expression in multiple human pancreatic cancer cell lines and detection of gastrin in cell lines and fresh pancreatic tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R1078-R1084
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5 39-5
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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