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G Galli, R Zonefrati, A Gozzini, C Mavilia, V Martineti, I Tognarini, G Nesi, T Marcucci, F Tonelli, M Tommasi, C Casini Raggi, P Pinzani, and M L Brandi

In somatostatinoma, a rare malignant somatostatin (SST)-secreting neoplasia, tumour regression is rarely observed, implying the need for novel antiproliferative strategies. Here, we characterized a long-term culture (SST-secreting cancer (SS-C cells)) established from a human somatostatinoma. High concentrations of SST and chromogranin A were released by SS-C cells and SST release was stimulated by depolarizing stimuli and inhibited by the SST analogue, octreotide. SS-C cells expressed mRNA for SST receptor (SSTR) subtypes 1, 2 and 4, being also able to bind native SST. Moreover, SS-C cells were positively stained with an antibody to SSTR2. SS-C cells also expressed interferon-γ (IFN-γ) receptor mRNA and measurable telomerase activity. Our findings indicate that in vitro exposure of SS-C cells to native SST-28, to octreotide, to IFN-γ, or to 3′-azido-3′deoxythymidine (AZT), a telomerase inhibitor, results in inhibition of SS-C cell proliferation. Concomitant with growth inhibition, apoptosis was detected in SST-, octreotide-, IFN-γ- or AZT-treated SS-C cell cultures. Taken together our results characterized native SST, SST analogues, IFN-γ and a telomerase inhibitor as growth-inhibiting and proapoptotic stimuli in cultured human somatostatinoma cells. Based on these findings, the potential of SST analogues, IFN-γ and AZT, alone or in combination, should be further explored in the medical treatment of somatostatinoma.

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C Orlando, C Casini Raggi, S Bianchi, V Distante, L Simi, V Vezzosi, S Gelmini, P Pinzani, M Cameron Smith, A Buonamano, E Lazzeri, M Pazzagli, L Cataliotti, M Maggi, and M Serio

Somatostatin analogs are effective in inhibiting growth of human breast cancer cell lines. These antiproliferative effects are mediated by specific receptors located on cell membranes. The somatostatin receptor subtype 2 (sst2) is the principal mediator of somatostatin effects in normal and cancer cells, and its presence has already been demonstrated in breast cancer. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the clinical relevance of the expression of sst2 by quantifying its mRNA in a large group of infiltrating breast cancers and their corresponding normal tissues. The expression of sst2 mRNA was measured with quantitative real time RT-PCR in 169 breast cancers and in their corresponding unaffected tissues. We evaluated the association of sst2 expression with the commonest clinical-pathologic features of breast cancer. The correlation with a marker of cell proliferation (Ki-67) and with receptor concentration was also evaluated. In cancer tissues, we found that the absolute concentrations of sst2 mRNA were significantly higher in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive samples (P=0.002) as well as in lymph-node-negative cancers (P=0.04) (Student's t-test or one-way ANOVA). In addition, sst2 mRNA was significantly higher in breast cancers than in corresponding unaffected tissues (P=0.0002). However, when the clinical-pathologic parameters were considered, this gradient maintained its statistical significance only in tumors expressing positive prognostic markers, such as the presence of ER (P=0.0005) and progesterone receptors (PgR) (P=0005), and the lack of lymph-node involvement (P=0.0003). The same difference was also significant in postmenopausal women (P=0.001) and in T1 patients (P=0.001). In addition, sst2 mRNA expression was significantly higher (P=0.008) in low-proliferating breast cancers. Finally, we found that the quantitative expression of sst2 mRNA was directly related to the PgR concentration in breast cancer tissues (P<0.001). Our data seem to indicate that an upregulation of sst2 gene expression is a common feature of breast cancers which, on the basis of conventional predictive parameters, are expected to have a better prognosis. Featuring a possible role of somatostatin analogs in combined endocrine therapies for breast cancer, our results seem to confirm that the sst2 status of the tumor should be previously investigated.