Fifty-two brain tumors, consisting of 17 astrocytomas, 4 oligodendrogliomas, 20 glioblastomas, 3 neurinomas, 2 ependymomas, 1 neurofibroma, 1 ganglioneuroblastoma, 1 medulloblastoma, 1 plexus papilloma, 1 teratoma, and 1 germinoma, were tested for their content of specific somatostatin receptors using autoradiographic techniques or in vitro binding assays with membrane homogenates. Somatostatin receptors were found in most of the differentiated glia-derived tumors such as astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas whereas the poorly differentiated glioblastomas were usually free of receptors. Tumors originating from neuroblasts, i.e., ganglioneuroblastoma and medulloblastoma, contained a high density of somatostatin receptors, whereas neurinomas and neurofibromas as well as the ependymomas, one teratoma, and one plexus papilloma were lacking such receptors. In one germinoma, low amounts of somatostatin receptors were observed over the lymphocytic elements.
Receptor-positive tumors had saturable and high affinity receptors with pharmacological specificity for somatostatin and somatostatin analogues resembling that of normal human central nervous system tissue. In most instances, they could be labeled with two different iodinated radioligands, a somatostatin octapeptide derivative (204-090) or a somatostatin-28 analogue.
This is the first time that somatostatin receptors have been shown to exist not only on neuronal structures of the central nervous system but also on glial elements. The precise function of such somatostatin receptors on glial cells, which may be different from neurotransmission, remains to be determined.