Cocaine- and Amphetamine-Regulated Transcript in Neuroendocrine Tumors

Kalle Landerholm, Sture Falkmer, Johannes Jarhult, Frank Sundler, Nils Wierup

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Background/Aims: Cocaine-and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) is an anorexigenic regulatory peptide highly expressed in the brain's appetite control centers, but also in peripheral neurons and in endocrine cells in the adrenal medulla, thyroid, pancreatic islets, and in the gastrointestinal tract. Plasma levels of CART were recently shown to be elevated in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), but the cellular sources of CART in NETs have remained unknown. The aim of the study was to establish whether CART is expressed in various types of NETs and, if so, to examine the frequency, distribution and phenotype of CART-expressing cells. Methods: Tumor specimens from 133 NETs originating in the stomach, ileum, rectum, pancreas and thyroid were examined with immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. The expression of CART was quantified and the CART-expressing cells were phenotyped by double staining for established markers and hormones. Results: CART-expressing tumor cells were found in the majority of the examined NETs. The expression pattern of CART was highly heterogeneous not only between tumors, but also within individual tumors. In 14% of the NETs, CART was found in a major population of the tumor cells. Conclusion: CART is produced in the majority of NETs, regardless of tumor origin. This likely explains the elevated levels of circulating CART in certain NETs patients, as recently described. CART could therefore prove to be a useful tool in the diagnostics of NETs not only in blood samples, but also in histopathological specimens. Copyright (C) 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-236
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes

Free keywords

  • Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript
  • Neuroendocrine tumors
  • Endocrine pancreatic tumors
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Medullary thyroid
  • carcinomas
  • Regulatory peptides


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