Cortistatin (CST-14, Pro-c[Cys-Lys-Asn-Phe-Phe-Trp-Lys-Thr-Phe-Ser-Ser-Cys]-Lys-NH2), a neuropeptide member of the SRIH family, binds to all 5 SRIH receptor (sst) subtypes, but also possesses a significant binding affinity to GH secretagogue receptors (GHS-R), which have been reported to mediate the antiproliferative activity of GHS on thyroid cancer cells. The effect of CST-14 on cell proliferation was studied in 3 different human thyroid carcinoma cell lines of follicular origin (N-PAP, WRO, ARO) and in one thyroid medullary carcinoma cell line (TT). CST-14 1 pM determined a significant inhibition of cell proliferation in TT, N-PAP and WRO cells and this effect was dose-dependent and more pronounced than that displayed by SRIH-14 (Ala-Gly-c[Cys-Lys-Asn-Phe-Phe-Trp-Lys-Thr-Phe-Thr-Ser-Cys]-OH) treatment. To a minor extent, CST-14, but not SRIH-14, also temporary inhibited ARO cell proliferation. By immunofluorescence, sst2, sst3 and sst5 have been demonstrated in TT cells, whereas types 3 and 5 only were expressed in N-PAP and WRO cells, and no sst subtype was found in ARO cells. The presence of both GHS-Rla and lb mRNA has been studied and demonstrated in the TT medullary carcinoma cell line, whereas follicular derived cell lines were already known to express GHS binding sites. Addition of EP-80874 (D-Mrp-c[D-Cyspyridilalanyl3-D-Trp-Lys-Val-Cys]-Mrp-NH2), a synthetic peptide that binds to SRIH and GHS-R, completely abolished the antiproliferative effects of CST-14 or SRIH-14 on sst/GHS-R positive thyroid carcinoma cell lines (WRO, N-PAP and TT). EP-80874 was also able to antagonize the inhibitory activity of CST-14 on the growth of cells (ARO) expressing GHS-R but not sst. Taken together, these data firstly demonstrate that EP-80874 has a mixed SRIH/CST antagonist activity and suggest that the oncostatic effect of CST-14 on thyroid cancer cells could be mediated by both sst and/or GHS-R.
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