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A Hassan and D Mason

Arginine vasopressin (AVP) stimulates adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) secretion from corticotroph cells of the anterior pituitary via activation of the V1b vasopressin receptor, a member of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) family. Recently, we have shown that treatment of ovine anterior pituitary cells with AVP for short periods results in reduced responsiveness to subsequent stimulation with AVP. The aim of this study was to investigate mechanisms involved in this desensitization process. Among the GPCR family, rapid desensitization is commonly mediated by receptor phosphorylation, with resensitization being mediated by internalization and subsequent dephosphorylation of the receptors by protein phosphatases. Since desensitization of V1a vasopressin receptors is mediated by protein kinase C-mediated receptor phosphorylation, we investigated the involvement of this enzyme in desensitization of the ACTH response to AVP. Treatment of perifused ovine anterior pituitary cells with the specific protein kinase C (PKC) activator 1,2-dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol (300 μM) did not induce any reduction in response to a subsequent 5-min stimulation with 100 nM AVP, despite potently stimulating ACTH secretion. Likewise, the results obtained using the PKC inhibitor Ro 31-8220 were not consistent with involvement of PKC in AVP desensitization: 2 μM Ro 31-8220 did not reduce the ability of a 10 nM AVP pretreatment to induce desensitization to a subsequent stimulation with 100 nM AVP. Pharmacologic blockade of receptor internalization by treatment with 0.25 mg/ml concanavalin A significantly impaired the ability of a 15-min pretreatment with 10 nM AVP to induce desensitization, rather than affecting resensitization. Treatment with 10 nM okadaic acid, an inhibitor of protein phosphatase 1 and 2A, had no effect on either resensitization or desensitization. In contrast, inhibition of protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B) with 1 μM FK506 decreased the rate of resensitization: complete recovery from desensitization took 40 min, whereas in controls recovery was complete 20 min after termination of the pretreatment. These results indicate that desensitization of the ACTH response to AVP is not mediated by PKC-catalyzed phosphorylation, suggesting subtype-specific differences in the regulation of V1a and V1b vasopressin receptors. The data demonstrate that desensitization was dependent, at least in part, upon receptor internalization and that resensitization was dependent upon PP2B-mediated receptor dephosphorylation.

Free access

A Hassan, S Chacko, and D Mason

Following repeated or prolonged exposure to either corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) or arginine vasopressin (AVP), pituitary adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH) responsiveness is reduced. This study compared the characteristics of desensitization to CRH and AVP in perifused ovine anterior pituitary cells. Desensitization to AVP occurred at relatively low AVP concentrations and was both rapid and readily reversible. Treatment for 25 min with AVP at concentrations greater than 2 nM caused significant reductions in the response to a subsequent 5 min 100 nM AVP pulse (IC(50)=6.54 nM). Significant desensitization was observed following pretreatment with 5 nM AVP for as briefly as 5 min. Desensitization was greater following a 10 min pretreatment, but longer exposures caused no further increase. Resensitization was complete within 40 min following 15 min treatment with 10 nM AVP. Continuous perifusion with 0.01 nM CRH had no effect on AVP-induced desensitization. Treatment with 0.1 nM CRH for either 25 or 50 min caused no reduction in the response to a subsequent 5 min stimulation with 10 nM CRH. When the pretreatment concentration was increased to 1 nM significant desensitization was observed, with a greater reduction in response occurring after 50 min treatment. Recovery of responsiveness was progressive following 50 min treatment with 1 nM CRH and was complete after 100 min. Our data show that in the sheep AVP desensitization can occur at concentrations and durations of AVP exposure within the endogenous ranges. This suggests that desensitization may play a key role in regulating ACTH secretion in vivo. If, as has been suggested, CRH acts to set corticotroph gain while AVP is the main dynamic regulator, any change in responsiveness to CRH may significantly influence the overall control of ACTH secretion.

Restricted access

M R Sairam, A A H Zaky, and A A Hassan


The isolation of highly purified forms of pituitary LH from Egyptian male (Nile) buffaloes is described. The total LH content (receptor binding activity) which was approximately 30 to 50 fold higher than FSH in the pituitary could be divided into three pools based upon fractionation patterns on a cation exchanger. The acidic fraction which also contained FSH was not purified to homogeneity. A basic fraction (bu-LH-2; 300 mg/kg anterior pituitary) and a very basic fraction (bu-LH-3; 80 mg/kg) were both highly purified and free of FSH activity as tested by specific FSH receptor and immunoassays. The basic buffalo LH fraction, bu-LH-2, was as active as highly purified ovine LH (oLH). The most basic form of buffalo LH, bu-LH-3, was, however, about twice as active as highly purified oLH in the in vitro bioassay using mouse Leydig tumour (MA-10) cells. In a receptor binding assay employing 125I-labelled buffalo LH (bu-LH-3) and porcine testicular membranes, the affinity of bu-LH-3 was about five times higher than purified oLH. The M r of both forms of purified buffalo LH and subunits was similar to that of oLH. Amino acid composition of buffalo LH was also very similar to oLH except for small differences. Fractionation by fast protein liquid chromatography on Mono-Q columns revealed further evidence of microheterogeneity in each of the pools of buffalo LH with bu-LH-3 exhibiting a predominant single component. By reverse-phase high-pressure liquid chromotography analysis we have localized differences in the two purified isoforms of male buffalo LH to the α subunit. It is suggested that differences in biological potencies could be due to variations in terminal glycosylation and/or differences in branching of this subunit which is known to be important for signal transduction.

Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 143, 313–323

Restricted access

O. F. X. Almeida, A. H. S. Hassan, K. E. Nikolarakis, and G. B. Martin


It was found in previous studies that the neurotransmitter control of the secretion of LHRH and LH differs between long-term castrated and ovariectomized rats. One interpretation of these data was that there was a reduced 'positive drive' in the male, and the question was raised 'how do the gonadotrophs of long-term castrated rats maintain a high level of LH secretion?'. In the present series of experiments, evidence for a reduced dependence of the gonadotrophs upon LHRH stimulation is provided. Although sensitivity to native LHRH was not completely lost in long-term castrated rats, two potent LHRH antagonists (d-pyroglu1,d-Phe2,d-Trp3,6)-LHRH and (N-acetyl-3,4-dehydro-Pro,p-fluoro-d-Phe2,d-Trp3,6)-LHRH, were found to inhibit LH secretion in short-term castrated and long-term ovariectomized rats, but not in long-term castrated rats. Neither blockade of axonal transport with colchicine nor immunoneutralization of LHRH with an antiserum against LHRH (both administered 48 h before blood sampling) produced reductions in serum concentrations of LH in long-term castrated rats, although these treatments significantly suppressed LH levels in short-term castrated animals. Chronic (6-day) infusions of the second LHRH antagonist (up to 450 μg/day) neither reduced LH secretion nor altered the morphology of the 'castration cells' in the pituitaries of long-term castrated rats. Chronic treatment with testosterone (15 days), however, reversed these parameters to some extent, and when the testosterone treatment was coupled with chronic infusions of the LHRH antagonist, significantly lower serum levels of LH and reductions in the size of the castration cells were observed. These data thus indicate that castration cells may function autonomously, without the need for LHRH, and that testosterone in some way restores the dependency on LHRH and/or the responsiveness to LHRH of these cells.

Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 123, 263–273

Free access

Stuart A Morgan, Zaki K Hassan-Smith, Craig L Doig, Mark Sherlock, Paul M Stewart, and Gareth G Lavery

The adverse metabolic effects of prescribed and endogenous glucocorticoid excess, ‘Cushing’s syndrome’, create a significant health burden. While skeletal muscle atrophy and resultant myopathy is a clinical feature, the molecular mechanisms underpinning these changes are not fully defined. We have characterized the impact of glucocorticoids upon key metabolic pathways and processes regulating muscle size and mass including: protein synthesis, protein degradation, and myoblast proliferation in both murine C2C12 and human primary myotube cultures. Furthermore, we have investigated the role of pre-receptor modulation of glucocorticoid availability by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) in these processes. Corticosterone (CORT) decreased myotube area, decreased protein synthesis, and increased protein degradation in murine myotubes. This was supported by decreased mRNA expression of insulin-like growth factor (IGF1), decreased activating phosphorylation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), decreased phosphorylation of 4E binding protein 1 (4E-BP1), and increased mRNA expression of key atrophy markers including: atrogin-1, forkhead box O3a (FOXO3a), myostatin (MSTN), and muscle-ring finger protein-1 (MuRF1). These findings were endorsed in human primary myotubes, where cortisol also decreased protein synthesis and increased protein degradation. The effects of 11-dehydrocorticosterone (11DHC) (in murine myotubes) and cortisone (in human myotubes) on protein metabolism were indistinguishable from that of CORT/cortisol treatments. Selective 11β-HSD1 inhibition blocked the decrease in protein synthesis, increase in protein degradation, and reduction in myotube area induced by 11DHC/cortisone. Furthermore, CORT/cortisol, but not 11DHC/cortisone, decreased murine and human myoblast proliferative capacity. Glucocorticoids are potent regulators of skeletal muscle protein homeostasis and myoblast proliferation. Our data underscores the potential use of selective 11β-HSD1 inhibitors to ameliorate muscle-wasting effects associated with glucocorticoid excess.

Open access

Stuart A Morgan, Laura L Gathercole, Zaki K Hassan-Smith, Jeremy Tomlinson, Paul M Stewart, and Gareth G Lavery

The aged phenotype shares several metabolic similarities with that of circulatory glucocorticoid excess (Cushing’s syndrome), including type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and myopathy. We hypothesise that local tissue generation of glucocorticoids by 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1), which converts 11-dehydrocorticosterone to active corticosterone in rodents (corticosterone to cortisol in man), plays a role in driving age-related chronic disease. In this study, we have examined the impact of ageing on glucocorticoid metabolism, insulin tolerance, adiposity, muscle strength, and blood pressure in both wildtype (WT) and transgenic male mice with a global deletion of 11β-HSD1 (11β-HSD1−/−) following 4 months high-fat feeding. We found that high fat-fed 11β-HSD1−/− mice were protected from age-related glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinemia when compared to age/diet-matched WTs. By contrast, aged 11β-HSD1−/− mice were not protected from the onset of sarcopenia observed in the aged WTs. Young 11β-HSD1−/− mice were partially protected from diet-induced obesity; however, this partial protection was lost with age. Despite greater overall obesity, the aged 11β-HSD1−/− animals stored fat in more metabolically safer adipose depots as compared to the aged WTs. Serum analysis revealed both WT and 11β-HSD1−/− mice had an age-related increase in morning corticosterone. Surprisingly, 11β-HSD1 oxo-reductase activity in the liver and skeletal muscle was unchanged with age in WT mice and decreased in gonadal adipose tissue. These data suggest that deletion of 11β-HSD1 in high fat-fed, but not chow-fed, male mice protects from age-related insulin resistance and supports a metabolically favourable fat distribution.