The Role of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) in Endometrial Cancer

Cells. 2021 Feb 1;10(2):292. doi: 10.3390/cells10020292.


Endometrial cancer (EC) is one of the most common gynecological malignancies. Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) is a decapeptide first described to be secreted by the hypothalamus to regulate pituitary gonadotropin secretion. In this systematic review, we analyze and summarize the data indicating that most EC express GnRH and its receptor (GnRH-R) as part of an autocrine system regulating proliferation, the cell cycle, and apoptosis. We analyze the available data on the expression and function of GnRH-II, its putative receptor, and its signal transduction. GnRH-I and GnRH-II agonists, and antagonists as well as cytotoxic GnRH-I analogs, have been shown to inhibit proliferation and to induce apoptosis in human EC cell lines in pre-clinical models. Treatment with conventional doses of GnRH-agonists that suppress pituitary gonadotropin secretion and ovarian estrogen production has become part of fertility preserving therapy of early EC or its pre-cancer (atypical endometrial hyperplasia). Conventional doses of GnRH-agonists had marginal activity in advanced or recurrent EC. Higher doses or more potent analogs including GnRH-II antagonists have not yet been used clinically. The cytotoxic GnRH-analog Zoptarelin Doxorubicin has shown encouraging activity in a phase II trial in patients with advanced or recurrent EC, which expressed GnRH-R. In a phase III trial in patients with EC of unknown GnRH-R expression, the cytotoxic GnRH doxorubicin conjugate was not superior to free doxorubicin. Further well-designed clinical trials exploiting the GnRH-system in EC might be useful.

Keywords: GnRH; LHRH; endometrial cancer; gonadotropin releasing hormone; luteinizing hormone releasing hormone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / pharmacology
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Signal Transduction


  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone