Recently, specific binding sites for luteinizing hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) and its analogues have been demonstrated in biopsy samples of human epithelial ovarian cancer. Their biological significance remained obscure. In this study we ascertained whether such LHRH-binding sites are also present in the human epithelial ovarian cancer cell lines EFO-21 and EFO-27 and if they could mediate antiproliferative effects of LHRH analogues. Using [125I, D-Trp6]LHRH, a high affinity/low capacity binding site was detected in both lines: EFO-21 (Kd1 = 1.5 × 10-9m; binding capacity (Bmax1) = 4.9 fmol/106 cells) and EFO-27 (Kd1 = 1.7 × 10-9m; Bmax1 = 3 fmol/106 cells). In addition, a second class of low affinity/high capacity binding sites (EFO-21: Kd2 = 7.5 × 10-6m; Bmax2 = 24 pmol/106 cells; EFO-27: Kd2 = 4.3 × 10-6m; Bmax2 = 14.5 pmol/106 cells) was demonstrated. Specific binding of [125I, D-Trp6]LHRH was displaced with nearly equal efficiency by unlabeled [D-Trp6]LHRH, the LHRH-antagonists SB-75 and Hoe-013, and by native LHRH but not by unrelated peptides such as oxytocin and somatostatin. In the presence of 10-5m agonist [D-Trp6]LHRH, the proliferation of both cell lines was significantly reduced to 77% of controls after 24 h and to approx. 60% after 6 days. Lower concentrations (10-9m) of the agonist, significantly decreased the proliferation to 87.5% for EFO-21 and 86% for EFO-27 after 6 days. These antiproliferative effects were enhanced by increasing doses of [D-Trp6]LHRH and were maximal at 10-5m (EFO-21: 65.5% of control, EFO-27: 68% of control). Similar dose-dependent antiproliferative effects were obtained in EFO-21 line with the LHRH-antagonists SB-75 and Hoe-013, while these analogues had no effects on the proliferation of EFO-27 cells. SB-75 partly antagonized the antiproliferative effect of [D-Trp6]LHRH in a dose dependent way in the EFO-27 line. These data suggest that LHRH analogues can directly inhibit the in vitro proliferation of human ovarian cancer cells. This effect might be mediated through the high affinity LHRH binding sites.

1

Dedicated to Professor Dr. H. Maass, President of the German Cancer Society, on the occasion of his 65th birthday.

2

This study was supported by the foundations P. E. Kempkes and A. and U. Kulemann, Marburg, by Ferring Arzneimittel GmbH, Kiel, Germany, and in part by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 215, B10). M. B. received a grant of the Fachbereich Humanmedizin of Philipps University, Marburg.

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