Antitumor effect of GnRH agonist in epithelial ovarian cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 1999 Aug;74(2):170-80. doi: 10.1006/gyno.1999.5413.


Objective: The effects of the gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist (D-Trp(6)) were examined in two human ovarian cancer cell lines and in severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) mice to evaluate its potential as a cytocidal, cytostatic, or differentiating antitumor agent.

Methods: We treated the human ovarian cancer cell lines OVCAR-3 and SKOV-3 for 5 or 7 days and sex-matched SCID mice with GnRH agonist for 29 days. The antitumor effect of GnRH agonist were studied in various aspects. To confirm the antiproliferative effect, we used 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl) -2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide colorimetric assay, in vitro, and a serial measurement of tumor growth in vivo. The disturbances of progression in the cell cycle and the changes of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 following treatment with GnRH agonist were evaluated with flow cytometric analysis in vitro. The induction of apoptosis following treatment with GnRH agonist was studied using in situ terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase (Tdt) and further quantitated with ELISA in vitro. The presence of telomerase activity following treatment with GnRH agonist was measured by PCR-based telomeric repeat amplification protocol and ELISA detection in cell lines and xenografts in vitro and in vivo.

Results: Continuous exposure of cell lines and xenografts to GnRH agonist resulted in growth inhibition of cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. In cultured cells, the GnRH agonist blocked cell cycle progression in G0/G1 phase and thus reduced the number of cells in S and G2/M phases. The phenomenon of apoptosis was documented in cultured cells treated with GnRH agonist by in situ Tdt assay. The frequency of apoptotic cells in the in situ Tdt assay was 5-6% compared with control, 4-5%. Apoptosis quantified by ELISA revealed a high incidence in cultured cells treated with GnRH agonist. The activities of telomerase in cell lines and xenografts were not decreased by GnRH agonist. There were not any significant changes of expression of CA-125 by flow cytometry and of the cellular morphology observed with light microscopy.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that the antiproliferative effect of GnRH agonist in epithelial ovarian cancer cells may be mainly attributed to cytostatic activities resulting in blocking of cell cycle progression in the G0/G1 phase and minimally related to the induction of apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase / biosynthesis
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma / enzymology
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Triptorelin Pamoate / therapeutic use*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Triptorelin Pamoate
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase