Nerve growth factor and retinoic acid interactions in the control of small cell lung cancer proliferation

Chiara Fiorentini, Marco Facchetti, Alessandra Finardi, Sandra Sigala, Marcelo Páez-Pereda, Emanuele Sher, PierFranco Spano, Cristina Missale

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Objective: Nerve growth factor (NGF) has antiproliferative and differentiating effects in neuroendocrine tumors. In cell lines derived from small cell lung cancer (SCLC), NGF treatment stimulates NGF receptor expression, activates NGF secretion, inhibits proliferation and abrogates invasion. Since these effects are lost upon NGF withdrawal, it is relevant to identify other differentiation factors that may co-operate with the NGF system to control SCLC growth and differentiation. Design: Retinoic acid (RA), which has been shown to inhibit cell transformation and proliferation, modulates the expression of NGF receptors and the sensitivity to NGF in different cell models. In the present study, we have investigated whether NGF and RA may interact to control the proliferation of SCLC cell lines. Methods: SCLC cells were exposed to 50 ng/ml NGF or 1 μM all-trans RA for different times. Cell proliferation was measured by the [3H]thymidine incorporation test and NGF receptor expression was evaluated by immunofluorescence. Results: We found that RA increased the expression of both trkA and p75 NGF receptors in NCI-N-592 and GLC8 cell lines and prevented the loss of both NGF production and NGF receptor expression occurring when NGF treatment was discontinued. As a result, RA, which did not inhibit the proliferation of untreated cells, abolished NGF withdrawal-related increase in cell proliferation both in vitro and in vivo, thus making permanent the antiproliferative effects of NGF. Conclusions: These data suggest that combined treatments with NGF and RA or mimicking drugs may represent a strategy to be further investigated for the treatment of SCLC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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