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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Variable expression of the V1 vasopressin receptor modulates the phenotypic response of steroid-secreting adrenocortical tumors.

We studied the putative role of the vasopressin receptors in the phenotypic response of steroid-secreting adrenocortical tumors. A retrospective analysis of a series of 26 adrenocortical tumors responsible for Cushing's syndrome (19 adenomas and 7 carcinomas) showed that vasopressin (10 IU, i.m., lysine vasopressin) induced an ACTH-independent cortisol response (arbitrarily defined as a cortisol rise above baseline of 30 ng/mL or more) in 7 cases (27%). In comparison, 68 of 90 patients with Cushing's disease (76%) had a positive cortisol response. We then prospectively examined the expression of vasopressin receptor genes in adrenocortical tumors of recently operated patients (20 adenomas and 19 adrenocortical carcinomas). We used highly sensitive and specific quantitative RT-PCR techniques for each of the newly characterized human vasopressin receptors: V1, V2, and V3. The V1 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) was detected in normal adrenal cortex and in all tumors. Its level varied widely between 2.0 x 10(2) and 4.4 x 10(5) copies/0.1 microgram total RNA, and adenomas had significantly higher levels than carcinomas, although there was a large overlap. Among the 6 recently operated patients who had been subjected to the vasopressin test in vivo, the tumor V1 mRNA levels were higher in the 4 responders (9.5 x 10(3) to 5.0 x 10(4)) than in the 2 nonresponders (2.0 x 10(2) and 1.8 x 10(3)). One adenoma that had a brisk cortisol response in vivo, also had in vitro cortisol responses that were inhibited by a specific V1 antagonist. In situ hybridization showed the presence of V1 mRNA in the normal human adrenal cortex where the signal predominated in the compact cells of the zona reticularis. A positive signal was also present in the tumors with high RT-PCR V1 mRNA levels; its distribution pattern was heterogeneous and showed preferential association with compact cells. RT-PCR studies for the other vasopressin receptors showed a much lower signal for V2 and no evidence for V3 mRNA. We could not establish whether the V2 mRNA signal observed in normal and tumoral specimens was present within adrenocortical cells or merely within tissue vessels. We conclude that the vasopressin V1 receptor gene is expressed in normal and tumoral adrenocortical cells. High, and not ectopic, expression occurs in a minority of tumors that become directly responsive to vasopressin stimulation tests.[1]


  1. Variable expression of the V1 vasopressin receptor modulates the phenotypic response of steroid-secreting adrenocortical tumors. Arnaldi, G., Gasc, J.M., de Keyzer, Y., Raffin-Sanson, M.L., Perraudin, V., Kuhn, J.M., Raux-Demay, M.C., Luton, J.P., Clauser, E., Bertagna, X. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (1998) [Pubmed]
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