Antagonists of growth-hormone-releasing hormone: an emerging new therapy for cancer

Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;4(1):33-43. doi: 10.1038/ncpendmet0677.


This article reviews the potential clinical uses of antagonists of growth-hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) for tumor therapy. GHRH antagonists suppress the growth of various human cancer lines xenografted into nude mice; such tumors include breast, ovarian, endometrial and prostate cancers, lung cancers (small-cell lung carcinomas and non-small-cell lung carcinomas), renal, pancreatic, gastric and colorectal carcinomas, brain tumors (malignant gliomas), osteogenic sarcomas and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The antitumor effects of GHRH antagonists are exerted in part indirectly through the inhibition of the secretion of GH from the pituitary and the resulting reduction in the levels of hepatic insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I). The main effects of the GHRH antagonists are, however, exerted directly on tumors. GHRH ligand is present in various human cancers and might function as an autocrine and/or paracrine growth factor. Pituitary-type GHRH receptors and their splice variants are also found in many human cancers. The inhibitory effects of GHRH antagonists seem to be due to the blockade of action of tumoral GHRH. Antagonists of GHRH can also suppress cancer growth by blocking production of IGF-I and/or IGF-II by the tumor. Further development of GHRH antagonists that are still-more potent should lead to potential therapeutic agents for various cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide / genetics
  • Receptors, Pituitary Hormone-Regulating Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Pituitary Hormone-Regulating Hormone / genetics
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptors, Neuropeptide
  • Receptors, Pituitary Hormone-Regulating Hormone
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone
  • somatotropin releasing hormone receptor