There is no question that gut peptides are trophic for normal gut mucosa. Gut peptides can function in an endocrine, paracrine or autocrine fashion. We examined th effects of gut peptides on the growth of animal and human cancers of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and pancreas in vivo and in vitro. We also examined the role of growth factors and bioamines in the regulation of growth of human endocrine tumors. Our studies have shown that gut peptides (gastrin, VIP, neurotensin, and bombesin) regulate growth of some cancers of the GI tract and pancreas. We have found that peptide action is mediated through specific receptors and that cell-specific differences in receptor expression occur. We have also begun to examine the intracellular signal-transduction pathways involved in endocrine and autocrine actions of these peptides on growth of GI cancers. We have found that cell type-specific differences exist among the various signal transduction pathways (cyclic AMP, phosphatidylinositol hydrolysis (PI), intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) mobilization and tyrosine phosphorylation) and that different receptors for the same hormone may be linked to different signal transduction pathways depending upon cell type. We have also found that autocrine growth regulation of human pan creatic carcinoid occurs through specific receptor-mediated( signal-transduction pathways. We will discuss the mechanisms of action and potential therapeutic uses of manipulation o: gut hormone levels or hormone antagonists to inhibit the growth of GI tract cancers.
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