Urocortin 3 (Ucn 3)/stresscopin (SCP) is a novel peptide of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family and is a specific ligand for the CRF type 2 receptor. In the present study, we studied expression of Ucn3/SCP in the normal adrenal and adrenal tumors by radioimmunoassay and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). High concentrations of immunoreactive (IR)-Ucn3 were present in the normal portions of adrenal glands (4.2 ± 0.51 pmol/g wet weight, mean ± S.E.M., n = 14), and the levels were higher than those in the brain. IR-Ucn3 was also detected in the tumor tissues of aldosterone-secreting adenomas (6.2 ± 0.6 pmol/g wet weight, n = 10), cortisol-secreting adenomas (5.0 ± 1.2 pmol/g wet weight, n = 4), and pheochromocytomas (1.9 ± 0.4 pmol/g wet weight, n = 7). Reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography showed that IR-Ucn3 in normal portions of adrenal glands and aldosterone-secreting adenomas was eluted mainly in the positions of Ucn3 and SCP with several minor peaks eluting earlier. The RT-PCR showed expression of Ucn3 mRNA in normal portions of adrenal gland (positive ratio; 4/4), aldosterone-secreting adenomas (3/4), cortisol-secreting adenomas (1/3) and pheochromocytomas (6/7). These findings indicate that Ucn3 is produced in normal adrenal and adrenal tumors (both adrenocortical tumors and pheochromocytomas), and suggest that Ucn3 acts as an autocrine or paracrine regulator in normal adrenal and adrenal tumors.
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