Human renal cell cancer proliferation in tissue culture is tonically inhibited by opioid growth factor

J Urol. 1999 Dec;162(6):2186-91. doi: 10.1016/S0022-5347(05)68157-8.


Purpose: Peptide growth factors alter cellular events by binding to specific receptors. One group of peptides, the endogenous opioids, is important in the growth of normal and neoplastic tissue. [Met5]enkephalin, also termed opioid growth factor (OGF), is a tonically active inhibitory factor that interacts with the OGF receptor, OGFr, formerly identified as Greek zeta (zeta) and appears to be autocrine produced by human cancer cells. This study examined the hypothesis that OGF directly inhibits proliferation of renal cell carcinoma in tissue culture.

Materials and methods: Human renal cancer cells (Caki-2) were grown using routine tissue culture techniques. A variety of natural and synthetic opioids including OGF, opioid antagonists, and opioid antibodies were added to renal cancer cell cultures to determine role of these peptides in renal cell carcinoma. The experiments were repeated in serum-free media, and with 4 other human renal cancer cell lines: Caki-2, A498, SN12C, and ACHN. Immunocytochemistry was performed to examine the presence of OGF and its receptor.

Results: OGF was the most potent opioid peptide to influence human renal cell carcinoma. OGF depressed growth within 12 hours of treatment, with cell numbers subnormal by up to 48% of control levels. OGF action was receptor mediated, reversible, not cytotoxic, neutralized by antibodies to the peptide, and detected in the human renal cell carcinoma lines examined. OGF appeared to be autocrine produced and secreted, and was constitutively expressed. Both OGF and its receptor were detected in these cells.

Conclusion: OGF tonically inhibits renal cancer cell proliferation in tissue culture, and may play a role in the pathogenesis and management of human renal cell cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Culture Techniques
  • Enkephalin, Methionine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Enkephalin, Methionine / pharmacology
  • Enkephalin, Methionine / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Opioid Peptides / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Opioid Peptides
  • Enkephalin, Methionine