Expression of gastrin-releasing peptide (human bombesin) gene in large cell undifferentiated carcinoma of the lung

J Pathol. 1990 Jun;161(2):145-51. doi: 10.1002/path.1711610209.


Production of the growth factor gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) or human bombesin has been shown to be a feature of neuroendocrine tumours of the lung, particularly small cell carcinoma, and is possibly responsible for the characteristically rapid growth of this tumour. Large cell undifferentiated carcinoma of the lung (LCC) is also characterized by rapid growth and there is increasing evidence that some LCCs exhibit neuroendocrine differentiation. We therefore investigated GRP/bombesin immunoreactivity and the expression of GRP gene in ten LCCs. Histologically, all were composed of large cells with abundant cytoplasm, open nuclei, and prominent nucleoli, and there was no evidence of squamous, glandular, or neuroendocrine differentiation. At the ultrastructural level, most showed squamous or glandular differentiation but none contained neuroendocrine granules. None of the tumours showed immunoreactivity for GRP/bombesin but seven of the ten showed a focal hybridization signal when treated with 32P-labelled GRP cRNA probes, indicating the presence of GRP mRNA. This was confirmed by northern blot analysis. This study shows for the first time that GRP gene is expressed in LCC. The production of GRP may contribute to the aggressive behaviour of LCC.

MeSH terms

  • Bombesin / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / genetics*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Bombesin