Increased expression of growth hormone and prolactin receptors in hepatocellular carcinomas

Endocrine. 2000 Jun;12(3):265-71. doi: 10.1385/ENDO:12:3:265.


The liver is an essential target tissue for growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL). The aim of this study was to determine the in situ expression of growth hormone receptor (GHR) and prolactin receptor (PRLR) in hepatocellular carcinomas and to compare the results with normal liver. For this purpose, in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistochemical techniques were performed and several tests were conducted to validate the results. By radioactive ISH, all the hepatocellular carcinomas studied showed labeling for GHR and PRLR mRNAs. Relative expression levels, determined by computer-assisted microdensity, were higher in hepatocellular carcinomas than in normal liver. Immunohistochemistry led us to confirm the constant expression of both receptor proteins in hepatocellular carcinomas and normal liver and to demonstrate their localization not only in the cytoplasm but also in the nucleus. These results confirm that the liver is a major GH and PRL target tissue and suggest that in hepatocellular carcinomas the proliferative effects of these hormones may be increased by a higher expression of their receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • Cytoplasm / chemistry
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prolactin / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptors, Prolactin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Somatotropin / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Prolactin
  • Receptors, Somatotropin
  • Prolactin
  • Growth Hormone