Ghrelin in fetal thyroid and follicular tumors and cell lines: Expression and effects on tumor growth

Marco Volante, Elena Allia, Ezio Fulcheri, Paola Cassoni, Ezio Ghigo, Giampiero Muccioli, Mauro Papotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ghrelin, a growth hormone-releasing hormone produced by gastroenteropancreatic endocrine cells, hypothalamus, and pituitary, was recently identified in medullary thyroid carcinomas and derived cell lines. However, no data exist on its expression in either normal or neoplastic thyroid follicular cells. We analyzed ghrelin expression by immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in 15 fetal, 4 infant, and 10 adult thyroids, and in 54 tumors of follicular origin. We also analyzed the effects of ghrelin on cell proliferation in N-PAP and ARO thyroid carcinoma cell lines. Ghrelin-binding sites were investigated using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction to detect its growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) mRNA and an in situ-binding localization procedure. Strong ghrelin immunoreactivity was found in fetal but not in infant or adult thyroids. Ghrelin protein and mRNA were present, in variable amounts, in benign and malignant tumors. Normal thyroids, thyroid tumors, and cell lines showed ghrelin binding sites by binding localization, in the absence of the specific GHS receptor mRNA (with the exception of one normal thyroid). Moreover, ghrelin induced dose-dependent inhibition of growth in cell lines. In conclusion, ghrelin is expressed in fetal but not in adult thyroid, and is re-expressed in tumors; the presence of ghrelin receptors other than GHS-R in normal and neoplastic adult thyroid is suggested; ghrelin inhibits cell proliferation of thyroid carcinoma cell lines in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-654
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Ghrelin in fetal thyroid and follicular tumors and cell lines: Expression and effects on tumor growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this