Hypothalamic hormones and cancer

Front Neuroendocrinol. 2001 Oct;22(4):248-91. doi: 10.1006/frne.2001.0217.


The use of peptide analogs for the therapy of various cancers is reviewed. Inhibition of the pituitary-gonadal axis forms the basis for oncological applications of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) agonists and antagonists, but direct effects on tumors may also play a role. Analogs of somatostatin are likewise used for treatment of various tumors. Radiolabeled somatostatin analogs have been successfully applied for the localization of tumors expressing somatostatin receptors. Studies on the role of tumoral LH-RH, growth hormone-releasing hormone (GH-RH), and bombesin/GRP and their receptors in the proliferation of various tumors are summarized, but the complete elucidation of all the mechanisms involved will require much additional work. Human tumors producing hypothalamic hormones are also discussed. Treatment of many cancers remains a major challenge, but new therapeutic modalities are being developed based on antagonists of GH-RH and bombesin, which inhibit growth factors or their receptors. Other approaches consist of the use of cytotoxic analogs of LH-RH, bombesin, and somatostatin, which can be targeted to receptors for these peptides in various cancers and their metastases. These new classes of peptide analogs should lead to a more effective treatment for various cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bombesin / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Bombesin / physiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide / physiology
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / analogs & derivatives
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Hormones / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Somatostatin / analogs & derivatives
  • Somatostatin / physiology


  • Hypothalamic Hormones
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Somatostatin
  • Gastrin-Releasing Peptide
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone
  • Bombesin