Urotensin II (UII), first identified from goby urophysis, is a potent vasoactive peptide hormone and an endogenous ligand for an orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR14, now named urotensin II receptor (UT-R). In addition to its vascular actions, UII has been shown to have mitogenic effects on tumor growth and some regulatory effects on adrenal steroidogenesis. In the present study, we examined expression of UII and UT-R in human adrenal tumors and attached non-neoplastic adrenal tissues by immunohistochemistry. Both UII and UT-R were immunolocalized in tumor cells of all adrenal tumors examined: 8 cases of cortisol-producing adenomas, 8 cases of aldosterone-producing adenomas, 2 cases of non-functioning adenomas, 17 cases of adrenocortical carcinomas, and 8 cases of pheochromocytomas. In attached adrenals, immunoreactivity for UII was detected in medulla, but much weaker in the cortex than in cortical tumors, suggesting that expression of UII was up-regulated in neoplastic adrenocortical tissues. No significant differences were found in the degree of immunoreactivity for UT-R between the tumors and the attached adrenal tissues. The present study showed that both UII and UT-R were expressed in the adrenal tumors and attached non-neoplastic adrenal tissues, and suggests possible roles of UII and UT-R in tumor growth and/or secretory activities of these tumors.
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