Growth hormone (GH)-releasing activity has been detected in extracts of carcinoid and pancreatic islet tumors from three patients with GH-secreting pituitary tumors and acromegaly. Bioactivity was demonstrated in 2 N acetic acid extracts of the tumors using dispersed rat adenohypophyseal cells in primary monolayer culture and a rat anterior pituitary perifusion system. The GH-releasing effect was dose responsive and the greatest activity was present in the pancreatic islet tumor. Small amounts of activity were also found in two other tumors (carcinoid and small cell carcinoma of lung) unassociated with GH hypersecretion. Each of the tumors contained somatostatin-like immunoreactivity but the levels did not correlate with the net biologic expression of the tumor. Sephadex G-75 gel filtration indicated the GH-releasing activity to have an apparent molecular size of slightly greater than 6,000 daltons. The GH-releasing activity was adsorbed onto DEAE-cellulose at neutral pH and low ionic strength, from which it could be eluted by increasing ionic strength. The GH-releasing activity was further purified by high pressure liquid chromatography using an acetonitrile gradient on a cyanopropyl column to yield a preparation that was active at 40 ng protein/ml. Partially purified GH-releasing activity, from which most of the bioactive somatostatin had been removed, increased GH release by pituitary monolayer cultures to 5 times base line. Enzymatic hydrolysis studies revealed that the GH-releasing activity was resistant to carboxypeptidase, leucine-aminopeptidase, and pyroglutamate-amino-peptidase but was destroyed by trypsin and chymotrypsin, indicating that internal lysine and/or arginine and aromatic amino acid residues are required for biologic activity and that the NH2-terminus and COOH-terminus are either blocked or not essential. The results provide an explanation for the presence of GH-secreting tumors in some patients with the multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome, type I, and warrant the addition of GH-releasing activity to the growing list of hormones secreted by tumors of amine precursor uptake and decarboxylation cell types.
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