GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone), a decapeptide produced by the hypothalamus, plays an important role in the reproduction by regulating the pituitary-gonadal axis. Continuous high doses of GnRH or its superactive agonists result in desensitization of the pituitary gonadotropes and a suppression of sex steroid production by the gonads (chemical castration). Based on these effects, the treatment with GnRH agonists has become a widely used hormonal therapy of the sex-steroid dependent tumors. It was also demonstrated that most tumor cells contain GnRH receptors, and the direct antiproliferative effect of GnRH analogs on cancer cells might be mediated by these receptors. Development of new GnRH derivatives is focused on the decrease of their hormonal potency resulting in higher selectivity of the antitumor activity. One of the most promising natural GnRH analogs, lamprey (l) lGnRH-III, was isolated from see lamprey. This variant of GnRH binds to GnRH receptors and inhibits proliferation of various cancer cells. However, its endocrine effect is insignificant in mammals. lGnRH-III dimers and conjugates were prepared and were shown to have increased antiproliferative effects on various cancer cells, while their hormonal activity was lower than that of the native hormone. lGnRH-III was applied as targeting moiety to deliver anticancer agents to tumor cells. Research data concerning lGnRH-III and its analogs represent a new outlook for research trends of the application of GnRH compounds in cancer chemotherapy. Studies on the effects of lGnRH-III derivatives including antiproliferative effects, cytotoxicity, hormonal actions, and enzymatic stability are reviewed in this article.
Keywords: Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), targeted chemotherapy, drug delivery, GnRH receptors, conjugates, dimer derivatives, enzymatic stability
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