[en] In order to assess if oxytocin- and vasopressin-induced mitogenic effects detected on small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) cell lines could be transposed on primary SCLC, the aim of the present work was to identify mediators of these mitogenic actions on primary tumours samples. This was addressed on normal human lung tissue, on SCLC and on non-SCLC (NSCLC). Herein, we observe, in normal human lung, that OTR is colocalized with vascular endothelial cells of the lung and is not expressed by lung cells of epithelial nature. We detected mRNA amplification of V1aR, V2R and of a V2R variant. We observed that 86% of SCLC biopsies analyzed expressed at least the OTR and that 71% expressed the OTR, the V1aR and the V2R altogether. Comparatively, 50% of NSCLC biopsies tested expressed at least the OTR and 32% expressed the OTR, the V1aR and the V2R altogether. The occurrence of the V1bR/V3R is of 28 and 18% for SCLC and NSCLC, respectively. Nevertheless, for the SCLC biopsies analyzed in this study, V1bR/V3R expression correlates, in all cases, with the expression of all the other neurohypophysial peptide receptors. Our results suggest that neurohypophysial peptide antagonists may offer promise as a potential new therapeutic modality for the treatment of lung cancer expressing at least one of the neurhypophysial peptide receptor subtypes. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.