Clonal cell lines producing corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) have been generated by transfection of the W2 rat medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) cell with a CRH-encoding CMV/ SV40 expression vector. Here, we report the morphological, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural features of rat tumors derived by implantation of CRH-producing W2CRH-7 cells and compare them with non-CRH-producing W2 MTCs. Both types of tumors grew rapidly and consisted of sheets and nests of pleomorphic cells infiltrating adjacent adipose tissue. Immunohistochemistry revealed CRH in only W2CRH-7 tumors; scattered cells in these tumors also were immunoreactive for chromogranin and for vasoactive intestinal peptide. Otherwise, the two tumor types exhibited similar profiles of various neuroendocrine markers, including neuron-specific enolase, synaptophysin, calcitonin, and somatostatin. Ultrastructurally, the tumors contained abundant dilated rough endoplasmic reticulum, a prominent Golgi apparatus, and numerous lysosomes. Very few secretory granules were noted in the W2 tumors; by contrast, secretory granules, although still not numerous in the majority of W2CRH-7 cells, were more abundant in scattered cells of those tumors. The positive immunostaining for CRH is consistent with the observations of increased plasma CRH and pituitary-adrenal activation induced by these transplanted tumors. This system provides a valuable model for CRH excess mimicking tumoral CRH-dependent Cushing's syndrome in human patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism