Expression of the neurotensin gene in fetal human liver and fibrolamellar carcinoma

John A. Ehrenfried, Z. Zhou, James C. Thompson, B. Mark Evers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective: This study determined whether the neurotensin gene (NT/N) is expressed in the normal adult liver and focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) and confirmed NT/N expression in fibrolamellar carcinoma; whether NT/N or the neurotensin receptor is expressed in the fetal liver; and whether hepatic resection leads to expression of NT/N. Summary Background Data: Neurotensin (NT), a gut tridecapeptide localized in the gastrointestinal tract of the adult to the small bowel, is an important hormone-regulating gut motility, secretion, and mucosal growth. Expression of the NT/N gene has been identified in fibrolamellar carcinomas, but NT/N is not known to be expressed in the normal liver. Methods: Sensitive ribonuclease (RNase) protection assays were used to determine whether NT/N is expressed in fibrolamellar carcinoma, FNH, or healthy fetal and adult livers. The authors also determined whether the receptor for NT was present in the fetal liver and whether liver resection and subsequent regeneration could lead to re- expression of NT/N in the rat. Results: Neurotensin is expressed in fibrolamellar carcinoma and in the fetal human liver, but not in the adult liver or the samples of FNH. In addition, the authors were not able to detect expression of the NT receptor in the fetal liver and did not identify NT/N gene activation in the regenerating liver of the rat. Conclusions: The NT/N gene will be a useful molecular marker to differentiate fibrolamellar carcinoma from other liver tumors. The finding of NT/N expression in the fetal liver suggests a stem cell descendant that is common to both the liver and gut. The absence of NT/N expression in the regenerating liver suggests that NT does not play a role in this rapid growth process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-491
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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