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Free access

Raúl M Luque and Rhonda D Kineman

Neuronostatin, a somatostatin gene-encoded peptide, exerts important physiological and metabolic actions in diverse tissues. However, the direct biological effects of neuronostatin on pituitary function of humans and primates are still unknown. This study used baboon (Papio anubis) primary pituitary cell cultures, a species that closely models human physiology, to demonstrate that neuronostatin inhibits basal, but not ghrelin-/GnRH-stimulated, growth hormone (GH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion in a dose- and time-dependent fashion, without affecting the secretion of other pituitary hormones (prolactin, ACTH, FSH, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)) or changing mRNA levels. Actions of neuronostatin differs from somatostatin which in this study reduced GH/PRL/ACTH/LH/TSH secretion and GH/PRL/POMC/LH gene expression. Remarkably, we found that inhibitory actions of neuronostatin are likely mediated through: (1) the orphan receptor GPCR107 (found to be highly expressed in pituitary compared to somatostatin-receptors), (2) common (i.e. adenylyl cyclase/protein kinase A/MAPK/extra-/intracellular Ca2+ mobilization, but not phospholipase C/protein kinase C/mTOR) and distinct (i.e. PI3K) signaling pathways than somatostatin and; (3) dissimilar molecular mechanisms than somatostatin (i.e. upregulation of GPCR107 and downregulation of GHS-R/Kiss1-R expression by neuronostatin and, upregulation of sst1–5 expression by somatostatin). Altogether, the results of this study provide the first evidence that there is a functional neuronostatin signaling circuit, unique from somatostatin, which may work in concert with somatostatin to fine-tune hormone release from somatostropes and gonadotropes.

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Alejandro Ibáñez-Costa and Márta Korbonits

Classic somatostatin analogues aimed at somatostatin receptor type 2, such as octreotide and lanreotide, represent the mainstay of medical treatment for acromegaly. These agents have the potential to decrease hormone secretion and reduce tumour size. Patients with a germline mutation in the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein gene, AIP, develop young-onset acromegaly, poorly responsive to pharmacological therapy. In this review, we summarise the most recent studies on AIP-related pituitary adenomas, paying special attention to the causes of somatostatin resistance; the somatostatin receptor profile including type 2, type 5 and truncated variants; the role of G proteins in this pathology; the use of first and second generation somatostatin analogues; and the role of ZAC1, a zinc-finger protein with expression linked to AIP in somatotrophinoma models and acting as a key mediator of octreotide response.

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YS Huang, K Rousseau, N Le Belle, B Vidal, E Burzawa-Gerard, J Marchelidon and S Dufour

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I has been suggested as a potential signal linking growth and puberty in mammals. Using the juvenile European eel as a model, we employed a long-term, serum-free primary culture of pituitary cells to study the direct effect of IGF-I on gonadotrophin (GtH-II=LH) production. IGF-I increased both cell content and release of GtH-II in a time- and dose-dependent manner. IGF-I and IGF-II had similar potencies but insulin was 100-fold less effective, suggesting the implication of an IGF type 1 receptor. Other growth and metabolic factors, such as basic fibroblast growth factor and thyroid hormones, had no effect on GtH-II production. IGF-I did not significantly increase the number of GtH-II immunoreactive cells, indicating that its stimulatory effect on GtH-II production does not result from gonadotroph proliferation. Comparison of IGF-I and somatostatin (SRIH-14) effects showed that both factors inhibited growth hormone (GH) release but only IGF-I stimulated GtH-II production by eel pituitary cells. This indicates that the effect of IGF-I on gonadotrophs is not mediated by the reduction of GH released by somatotrophs into the culture medium. This study demonstrates a specific stimulatory effect of IGF-I on eel GtH-II production, played out directly at the pituitary level. These data obtained in a primitive teleost suggest that the role of IGF-I as a link between body growth and puberty may have been established early in the evolution of vertebrates.

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KL Geris, LR Berghman, ER Kuhn and VM Darras

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) and somatostatin (SRIH) concentrations were determined by RIA during both embryonic development and posthatch growth of the chicken. Both TRH and SRIH were already detectable in hypothalami of 14-day-old embryos (E14). Towards the end of incubation, hypothalamic TRH levels increased progressively, followed by a further increase in newly hatched fowl. SRIH concentrations remained stable from E14 to E17 and doubled between E17 and E18 to a concentration which was observed up to hatching. Plasma GH levels remained low during embryonic development, ending in a steep increase at hatching. Plasma TSH levels on the other hand decreased during the last week of the incubation. During growth, TRH concentrations further increased, whereas SRIH concentrations fell progressively towards those of adult animals. Plasma TSH levels increased threefold up to adulthood; the rise in plasma GH levels during growth was followed by a drop in adults. In conclusion, the present report shows that important changes occur in the hypothalamic TRH and SRIH concentration during both embryonic development and posthatch growth of the chicken. Since TRH and SRIH control GH and TSH release in the chicken, the hypothalamic data are compared with plasma GH and TSH fluctuations.

Free access

H Gronbaek, B Nielsen, B Schrijvers, I Vogel, R Rasch and A Flyvbjerg

It was recently discovered that the streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic mouse model is characterised by GH hypersecretion in contrast to the STZ-diabetic rat, the former thus mimicking the changes in GH in human type 1 diabetes. Inhibition of circulating and renal IGF-I by long-acting somatostatin analogues reduces renal and glomerular growth and urinary albumin excretion in diabetic rats. The aim of the present study was to examine renal and glomerular growth in early experimental diabetes in mice along with changes in the GH/IGF-I axis following treatment with the somatostatin analogue octreotide. Balb/C(a) mice were randomised into non-diabetic controls, placebo-treated and octreotide-treated diabetic (50 microg/day) mice and examined 7 and 14 days after induction of diabetes. There was no effect of octreotide treatment on body weight, glycaemic control or food intake. However, octreotide treatment significantly inhibited renal and glomerular growth by the end of the study period when compared with placebo treatment. In addition, octreotide prevented an increase in kidney IGF-I by day 7. GH hypersecretion was observed in the diabetic groups but octreotide treatment reduced GH levels compared with placebo treatment by day 14. No significant differences in serum or kidney IGF-binding protein-3 levels were observed between placebo- and octreotide-treated diabetic mice. In conclusion, this new diabetic mouse model mimicking human type 1 diabetes is characterised by GH hypersecretion and the somatostatin analogue octreotide is able to prevent renal and glomerular growth, probably mediated through changes in circulating GH and local kidney IGF-I levels.

Free access

Alejandro Ibáñez-Costa, Esther Rivero-Cortés, Mari C Vázquez-Borrego, Manuel D Gahete, Luis Jiménez-Reina, Eva Venegas-Moreno, Andrés de la Riva, Miguel Ángel Arráez, Inmaculada González-Molero, Herbert A Schmid, Silvia Maraver-Selfa, Inmaculada Gavilán-Villarejo, Juan Antonio García-Arnés, Miguel A Japón, Alfonso Soto-Moreno, María A Gálvez, Raúl M Luque and Justo P Castaño

Somatostatin analogs (SSA) are the mainstay of pharmacological treatment for pituitary adenomas. However, some patients escape from therapy with octreotide, a somatostatin receptor 2 (sst2)-preferring SSA, and pasireotide, a novel multi-sst-preferring SSA, may help to overcome this problem. It has been proposed that correspondence between sst1-sst5 expression pattern and SSA-binding profile could predict patient’s response. To explore the cellular/molecular features associated with octreotide/pasireotide response, we performed a parallel comparison of their in vitro effects, evaluating sst1-sst5 expression, intracellular Ca2+ signaling ([Ca2+]i), hormone secretion and cell viability, in a series of 85 pituitary samples. Somatotropinomas expressed sst5>sst2, yet octreotide reduced [Ca2+]i more efficiently than pasireotide, while both SSA similarly decreased growth hormone release/expression and viability. Corticotropinomas predominantly expressed sst5, but displayed limited response to pasireotide, while octreotide reduced functional endpoints. Non-functioning adenomas preferentially expressed sst3 but, surprisingly, both SSA increased cell viability. Prolactinomas mainly expressed sst1 but were virtually unresponsive to SSA. Finally, both SSA decreased [Ca2+]i in normal pituitaries. In conclusion, both SSA act in vitro on pituitary adenomas exerting both similar and distinct effects; however, no evident correspondence was found with the sst1-sst5 profile. Thus, it seems plausible that additional factors, besides the simple abundance of a given sst, critically influence the SSA response.

Free access

CD McMahon, LT Chapin, RP Radcliff, KJ Lookingland and HA Tucker

After a meal, somatotropes are temporarily refractory to growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), the principal hormone that stimulates secretion of growth hormone (GH). Refractoriness is particularly evident when free access to feed is restricted to a 2-h period each day. GH-releasing peptide-6 (GHRP-6), a synthetic peptide, also stimulates secretion of GH from somatotropes. Because GHRH and GHRP-6 act via different receptors, we hypothesized that GHRP-6 would increase GHRH-induced secretion of GH after feeding. Initially, we determined that intravenous injection of GHRP-6 at 1, 3 and 10 microg/kg body weight (BW) stimulated secretion of GH in a dose-dependent manner. Next, we determined that GHRP-6- and GHRH-induced secretion of GH was lower 1 h after feeding (22.5 and 20 ng/ml respectively) than 1 h before feeding (53.5 and 64.5 ng/ml respectively; pooleds.e.m.=8.5). However, a combination of GHRP-6 at 3 microg/kg BW and GHRH at 0.2 microg/kg BW synergistically induced an equal and massive release of GH before and after feeding that was fivefold greater than GHRH-induced release of GH after feeding. Furthermore, the combination of GHRP-6 and GHRH synergistically increased release of GH from somatotropes cultured in vitro. However, it was not clear if GHRP-6 acted only on somatotropes or also acted at the hypothalamus. Therefore, we wanted to determine if GHRP-6 stimulated secretion of GHRH or inhibited secretion of somatostatin, or both. GHRP-6 stimulated secretion of GHRH from bovine hypothalamic slices, but did not alter secretion of somatostatin. We conclude that GHRP-6 acts at the hypothalamus to stimulate secretion of GHRH, and at somatotropes to restore and enhance the responsiveness of somatotropes to GHRH.

Free access

GM Portela-Gomes and A Hoog

Insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) appears to play an important role during fetal life in cell growth and differentiation in several organs, including the pancreas. In the present study we investigated the cellular localization of IGF-II in human fetal pancreas at 16, 18 and 22 embryonic weeks and compared it with adult pancreas. Single and double immunofluorescence methods were used to study co-localization of IGF-II with the four major islet hormones - insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, pancreatic polypeptide - and with islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP). Distinct IGF-II immunoreactive (IR) cells were found in the endocrine, but not in the exocrine, pancreas. The intensity of IGF-II immunoreactivity was more pronounced in the fetal than in the adult pancreas. In fetal pancreas IGF-II immunoreactivity was observed in virtually all insulin-IR cells and in subsets of the glucagon, somatostatin and IAPP cells. In the adult pancreas, IGF-II immunoreactivity was found in insulin/IAPP cells only. Our results suggest a broader effect of IGF-II in fetal endocrine pancreatic cells than in the adult.

Free access

Caiyun Sun, Da Duan, Bo Li, Chaobin Qin, Jirong Jia, Bin Wang, Haiyan Dong and Wensheng Li

Urotensin II (UII) is a cyclic peptide that was originally extracted from the caudal neurosecretory system (CNSS) of fish. UII is well known to exhibit cardiovascular, ventilatory, and motor effects in vertebrates. Studies have reported that UII exerts mitogenic effects and can act as an autocrine/paracrine growth factor in mammals. However, similar information in fish is limited. In this study, the full-length cDNAs of UII and its receptor (UT) were cloned and characterized in the orange-spotted grouper. UII and UT were expressed ubiquitously in various tissues in grouper, and particularly high levels were observed in the CNSS, CNS, and ovary. A functional study showed that UT was coupled with intracellular Ca2 + mobilization in HEK293 cells. Studies carried out using i.p. injections of UII in grouper showed the following: i) in the hypothalamus, UII can significantly stimulate the mRNA expression of ghrh and simultaneously inhibit the mRNA expression of somatostatin 1 (ss1) and ss2 3 h after injection; ii) in the pituitary, UII also significantly induced the mRNA expression of gh 6 and 12 h after injection; and iii) in the liver, the mRNA expression levels of ghr1/ghr2 and igf1/igf2 were markedly increased 12 and 3 h after the i.p. injection of UII respectively. These results collectively indicate that the UII/UT system may play a role in the promotion of the growth of the orange-spotted grouper.

Free access

P G Murray, C E Higham and P E Clayton

At the time of the publication of Geoffrey Harris's monograph on ‘Neural control of the pituitary gland’ 60 years ago, the pituitary was recognised to produce a growth factor, and extracts administered to children with hypopituitarism could accelerate growth. Since then our understanding of the neuroendocrinology of the GH axis has included identification of the key central components of the GH axis: GH-releasing hormone and somatostatin (SST) in the 1970s and 1980s and ghrelin in the 1990s. Characterisation of the physiological control of the axis was significantly advanced by frequent blood sampling studies in the 1980s and 1990s; the pulsatile pattern of GH secretion and the factors that influenced the frequency and amplitude of the pulses have been defined. Over the same time, spontaneously occurring and targeted mutations in the GH axis in rodents combined with the recognition of genetic causes of familial hypopituitarism demonstrated the key factors controlling pituitary development. As the understanding of the control of GH secretion advanced, developments of treatments for GH axis disorders have evolved. Administration of pituitary-derived human GH was followed by the introduction of recombinant human GH in the 1980s, and, more recently, by long-acting GH preparations. For GH excess disorders, dopamine agonists were used first followed by SST analogues, and in 2005 the GH receptor blocker pegvisomant was introduced. This review will cover the evolution of these discoveries and build a picture of our current understanding of the hypothalamo-GH axis.