Intracellular presence of insulin and its phosphorylated receptor in non-small cell lung cancer

Stefano Mattarocci, Claudia Abbruzzese, Anna M. Mileo, Paolo Visca, Barbara Antoniani, Gabriele Alessandrini, Francesco Facciolo, Armando Felsani, Razvan T. Radulescu, Marco G. Paggi

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Insulin has been known for a long time to influence the growth and differentiation of normal and transformed cells. In order to delineate the role of insulin specifically in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we have now searched by immunohistochemistry (IHC) for the presence of insulin in NSCLC samples. Among the 112 samples we studied, 30 were found to contain insulin, which was detected in the form of intracytoplasmic granula. Moreover, its expression significantly correlated with (a) the morphological/histopathological subtype of NSCLC, being more frequent in adenocarcinomas; (b) the grade of tumor differentiation, displaying an increase in low-grade carcinomas; (c) tumor size, occurring predominantly in smaller tumors; (d) the presence of phosphorylated, activated insulin receptor; (e) the median patient age, being present in relatively younger individuals. Furthermore and interestingly, surrounding atypical adenomatous hyperplastic areas and normal alveolar pneumocytes scored insulin-positive in some of the insulin-negative tumors. In addition, PCR exploration for insulin transcripts in some samples positive for immunoreactive insulin was negative, indicating a possibly exogenous origin for the intracellular insulin in our NSCLC cohort. Taken together, our data suggest that an intracellular insulin activity is important for the progression of low-grade human lung adenocarcinomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-770
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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