Ghrelin is a peptide hormone produced in the stomach and a range of other tissues, where it has endocrine, paracrine and autocrine roles in both normal and disease states. Ghrelin has been shown to be an important growth factor for a number of tumours, including prostate and breast cancers. In this study, we examined the expression of the ghrelin axis (ghrelin and its receptor, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor, GHSR) in endometrial cancer. Ghrelin is expressed in a range of endometrial cancer tissues, while its cognate receptor, GHSR1a, is expressed in a small subset of normal and cancer tissues. Low to moderately invasive endometrial cancer cell lines were examined by RT-PCR and immunoblotting, demonstrating that ghrelin axis mRNA and protein expression correlate with differentiation status of Ishikawa, HEC1B and KLE endometrial cancer cell lines. Moreover, treatment with ghrelin potently stimulated cell proliferation and inhibited cell death. Taken together, these data indicate that ghrelin promotes the progression of endometrial cancer cells in vitro, and may contribute to endometrial cancer pathogenesis and represent a novel treatment target.
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