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Miski Scerif, Tamás Füzesi, Julia D Thomas, Blerina Kola, Ashley B Grossman, Csaba Fekete, and Márta Korbonits

AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a regulator of cellular and systemic energy homeostasis, can be influenced by several hormones. Tissue-specific alteration of AMPK activity by glucocorticoids may explain the increase in appetite, the accumulation of lipids in adipose tissues, and the detrimental cardiac effects of Cushing's syndrome. Endocannabinoids are known to mediate the effects of various hormones and to influence AMPK activity. Cannabinoids have central orexigenic and direct peripheral metabolic effects via the cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1). In our preliminary experiments, WT mice received implants of a corticosterone-containing pellet to establish a mouse model of Cushing's syndrome. Subsequently, WT and Cb1 (Cnr1)-knockout (CB1-KO) littermates were treated with corticosterone and AMPK activity in the hypothalamus, various adipose tissues, liver and cardiac tissue was measured. Corticosterone-treated CB1-KO mice showed a lack of weight gain and of increase in hypothalamic and hepatic AMPK activity. In adipose tissues, baseline AMPK activity was higher in CB1-KO mice, but a glucocorticoid-induced drop was observed, similar to that observed in WT mice. Cardiac AMPK levels were reduced in CB1-KO mice, but while WT mice showed significantly reduced AMPK activity following glucocorticoid treatment, CB1-KO mice showed a paradoxical increase. Our findings indicate the importance of the CB1 receptor in the central orexigenic effect of glucocorticoid-induced activation of hypothalamic AMPK activity. In the periphery adipose tissues, changes may occur independently of the CB1 receptor, but the receptor appears to alter the responsiveness of the liver and myocardial tissues to glucocorticoids. In conclusion, our data suggest that an intact cannabinoid pathway is required for the full metabolic effects of chronic glucocorticoid excess.

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The inhibitory effects of dopamine and various ergot alkaloids on prolactin secretion were studied using continuously perfused columns of dispersed rat anterior pituitary cells. Bromocriptine (5 nmol/l) and lisuride hydrogen maleate (5 nmol/l) both inhibited prolactin secretion, the effects persisting for more than 3 h after the end of the administration of the drugs. A similar although less long-lasting effect was observed with lergotrile (50 nmol/l) and the new ergoline derivative, pergolide (5 nmol/l). These effects contrasted with the rapid disappearance of the action of dopamine. The potency estimates of the ergots relative to that of dopamine were: lergotrile, 2·3; bromocriptine, 13; lisuride, 15; pergolide, 23.

The dopamine-receptor blocking drugs, metoclopramide and haloperidol, antagonized the prolactin release-inhibiting activity of the compounds; bromocriptine and lisuride showed the highest resistance to this dopaminergic blockade.

The results suggested that the direct effect of the ergot derivatives on dispersed pituitary cells was mediated through dopamine receptors and emphasized the long-lasting action of bromocriptine and lisuride in vitro.