To investigate the hypothesis that gastrin might be synthesized by tumour tissues in cancer of the colon, samples from six human colon tumours, one hepatic metastasis, four normal colonic mucosal samples and two antral and one fundic gastric mucosal samples from nine patients were analysed to determine whether gastrin mRNA was present.
RNA was extracted from surgical specimens by ultracentrifugation on a CsC1 cushion, purified using the guanidinium thiocyanate method, reversetranscribed and amplified by polymerase chain reaction. Gastrin mRNA was detected in each colonic carcinoma sample (including the hepatic metastasis), while no such signal was observed in normal colon biopsies. Positive and negative controls (gastric antrum and fundus respectively) gave the expected results. In each of the positive samples, the chemiluminescent revelation of amplified products after Southern blotting corresponded to gastrin mRNA without the intron.
These findings demonstrate the ability of primary and metastatic human colonic tumours to produce gastrin mRNA. Since malignant cell lines have been reported to produce gastrin peptide, and since gastrin receptors were present in some cases, our results support the idea that gastrin may be involved in an autocrine mechanism.