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J Trojan, M Theodoropoulou, KH Usadel, GK Stalla and L Schaaf

Enhanced sialylation of thyrotropin (TSH) prolongs its metabolic clearance rate and thus increases the hormone's in vivo bioactivity. This has been shown for hypothyroid rats and for recombinant human TSH, but there are few data on the sialylation of human serum TSH. The aim of this work was to further study sialylated human serum TSH, its precursors bearing terminal galactose residues, and the role of pharmacological doses of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) on their secretion under different degrees of primary hypothyroidism. We analyzed serum TSH in patients with subclinical (n = 9) and overt primary hypothyroidism (n = 13) compared with euthyroid individuals (n = 12) and human standard pituitary TSH (IRP 80/558). Blood was drawn before and 30 min after intravenous administration of 200 micrograms TRH, and TSH was purified by immunoaffinity concentration. The content of sialylated (sialo-) TSH and isoforms bearing terminal galactose (Gal-TSH, asialo-Gal-TSH) was measured by Ricinus communis (RCA 120) affinity chromatography in combination with enzymatic cleavage of sialic acid residues. TSH immunoreactivity was measured by an automated second generation TSH immunoassay. Pituitary TSH contained 16.5 +/- 0.8% Gal-TSH. In euthyroid individuals the proportion of Gal-TSH was 14.6 +/- 1.9%, whereas TSH in patients with subclinical and overt primary hypothyroidism contained 23.9 +/- 3.5% (P < 0.05 vs euthyroid individuals) and 21.1 +/- 1.7% Gal-TSH respectively. The mean ratio of asialo-Gal TSH was 23.8 +/- 0.6% for pituitary TSH, 35.7 +/- 4.2% in euthyroid individuals, 48.0 +/- 3.3% in patients with subclinical, and 61.5 +/- 3.8% (P < 0.001 vs euthyroid individuals) in patients with overt primary hypothyroidism. For pituitary TSH the calculated proportion of sialo-TSH was 6.5 +/- 0.2%, for euthyroid individuals 20.3 +/- 2.8%, for patients with subclinical hypothyroidism 24.1 +/- 3.0%, and for patients with overt primary hypothyroidism 40.7 +/- 3.0% (P < 0.001 vs euthyroid individuals). The proportions of Gal-TSH, asialo-Gal-TSH, and sialo-TSH did not differ significantly before and after TRH administration in the individuals studied. Our data show that patients with subclinical and overt primary hypothyroidism have a markedly increased proportion of serum TSH isoforms bearing terminal galactose and sialic acid residues, which may represent a mechanism for the further stimulation of thyroid function. Pharmacological doses of TRH cause an increased quantity of TSH to be released, but do not significantly alter the proportion of sialylated or terminally galactosylated TSH isoforms.

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L Schaaf, M Theodoropoulou, A Gregori, A Leiprecht, J Trojan, J Klostermeier and GK Stalla

Thyrotropin (TSH) is secreted not as one distinct hormone, but rather as a group of isohormones which differ in their oligosaccharide composition. Although the mechanisms regulating TSH glycosylation are not fully understood, there is strong evidence that TRH plays an important role. The aim of our study was to determine the dynamic influence of TRH on TSH microheterogeneity. Sera were obtained from euthyroid volunteers (n=20) before and 30, 60, 120, 180 and 240 min after intravenous, nasal and oral administration of TRH in three independent runs (randomized order, at a time-interval of 3 weeks between each run). TSH was immuno-concentrated and analysed by isoelectric focusing (IEF) and lentil lectin affinity chromatography. TSH immunoreactivity was measured by an automated second-generation TSH immunoassay. Overall, serum TSH concentrations reached maximal values 30 min after intravenous, 60 min after nasal and 180 min after oral TRH stimulation. IEF analysis revealed 63.3+/-3.3% of pituitary standard TSH (IRP 80/558) in the neutral pH range (8>pH>6). In contrast, 30 min after TRH stimulation 80.8+/-3.7% (P<0.001) and 60 min after TRH stimulation 44.9+/-2.2% (P<0.001) of the TSH of euthyroid probands were found in this pH range, whereas 180 min after TRH stimulation 58.4+/-2.3% (P<0.001) were detected in the acidic pH range (pH<6). This shift of TSH composition in euthyroidism after TRH stimulation was confirmed by lentil lectin analysis of TSH: core-fucose content of euthyroid TSH was 73.4+/-3.8% 30 min and 22.9+/-3.2% 120 min after TRH stimulation in contrast to basal (53.3+/-1.8%; P<0.001) and pituitary standard (IRP 80/558) TSH (63.0+/-0.9%; P<0.001). In conclusion, in euthyroidism, TRH stimulation time-dependently changes the distribution pattern of the TSH isoforms from an alkaline and neutral to a more acidic one. This corresponds to the secretion of isohormones with altered bioactivity which could influence the fine-tuning of thyroid function.

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CJ Newton, N Drummond, CH Burgoyne, V Speirs, GK Stalla and SL Atkin

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a fundamental role in both apoptotic and necrotic cell death. Their importance is highlighted by studies showing that they mediate cell death in response to radiotherapy and to some forms of chemotherapy. Here we provide the first evidence for a role of ROS in response to an antiendocrine agent currently undergoing clinical trials. Using the oestrogen receptor (ER) containing rat pituitary GH3 cell line, we show that cell death is induced by the pure steroidal antioestrogen, ZM 182780, and that this is blocked by the antioxidant, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). By flow cytometry, we show that, prior to the onset of DNA breakdown measured by ELISA, ZM 182780 exposure has no significant effect on intracellular oxidant concentrations. In contrast, ZM 182780 exposure greatly increases sensitivity to oxidants generated by blocking cellular antioxidant pathways and from exogenous administration of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). As both necrosis and apoptosis are controlled by mitochondrial function, further experiments conducted to determine mitochondrial membrane potential (Delta|gWm) have indicated that the ZM 182780-induced loss of ER function increases the ease with which oxidants collapse mitochondrial activity and, as a consequence, cell death.

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J Gloddek, U Pagotto, M Paez Pereda, E Arzt, GK Stalla and U Renner

There is increasing evidence that hormones play an important role in the control of endothelial cell function and growth by regulating the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF regulates vascular permeability and represents the most powerful growth factor for endothelial cells. In the normal anterior pituitary, VEGF has been detected only in folliculostellate (FS) cells. In the present study, the regulation of the release of VEGF from FS-like mouse TtT/GF cells, and from FS cells of rat pituitary monolayer cell cultures was investigated using a specific VEGF ELISA. Basal release of VEGF was demonstrated in cultures of both TtT/GF cells and rat pituitary cells. Interestingly, the VEGF secretion was stimulated by both forms of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP-38 and PACAP-27), indicating that this hypothalamic peptide regulates endothelial cell function and growth within the pituitary. VEGF secretion was also stimulated by interleukin-6 (IL-6) whereas basal, IL-6- and PACAP-stimulated secretion was inhibited by the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone. The inhibitory action of dexamethasone was reversed by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486, suggesting that in FS cells functional glucocorticoid receptors mediate the inhibitory action of glucocorticoids on the VEGF secretion. The endocrine and auto-/paracrine control of VEGF production in pituitary FS cells by PACAP, IL-6 and glucocorticoids may play an important role both in angiogenesis and vascular permeability regulation within the pituitary under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.

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M Theodoropoulou, T Arzberger, Y Gruebler, Z Korali, P Mortini, W Joba, AE Heufelder, GK Stalla and L Schaaf

Thyrotrophin (TSH) synthesis and secretion is under the positive control of thyrotrophin releasing hormone and under the negative control of the thyroid hormones. However, it is hypothesised that TSH has a direct effect on the regulation of its own synthesis through an intrapituitary loop mediated by pituitary TSH receptors (TSH-R). The aim of this investigation was to study the expression of TSH-R in normal human pituitary at mRNA and protein levels, and to compare the pattern of protein expression between different pituitary adenomas. Using RT-PCR we were able to detect TSH-R mRNA in the normal pituitary, and immunohistochemical studies showed TSH-R protein expression in distinct areas of the anterior pituitary. Double immunostaining with antibodies against each of the intrapituitary hormones and S100 revealed that TSH-R protein is present in thyrotrophs and folliculostellate cells. Examination of 58 pituitary adenomas, including two clinically active and two clinically inactive thyrotroph adenomas, revealed TSH-R immunopositivity in only the two clinically inactive thyrotroph adenomas. This study shows, for the first time, the presence of TSH-R protein in the normal anterior pituitary and in a subset of thyrotroph adenomas. The expression of TSH-R in the thyrotroph and folliculostellate cell subpopulations provides preliminary evidence of a role for TSH in autocrine and paracrine regulatory pathways within the anterior pituitary gland.

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C Perez Castro, A Carbia Nagashima, M Paez Pereda, V Goldberg, A Chervin, G Carrizo, H Molina, U Renner, GK Stalla and E Arzt

Two of the most potent cytokines regulating anterior pituitary cell function are leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and interleukin (IL)-6, which belong to the cytokine family using the common gp130 signal transducer. Recently, the expression and action of two other members of this family, IL-11 and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), on different cell lines has also been demonstrated. We studied the expression of the specific receptor subunits for CNTF in mammotropic, non-functioning and somatotropic tumors and the action of CNTF and IL-11 in the regulation of hormone secretion in these and normal pituitary cells. The mRNA for the alpha chain specific for the CNTF receptor was detected by Northern blot in tumors secreting prolactin (PRL) and GH and in non-functioning tumors. We found that both IL-11 and CNTF exerted a similar stimulatory effect on GH mRNA expression in somatotropic monolayer cell cultures from acromegalic tumors, but these cytokines had no significant influence on GH secretion. CNTF stimulates prolactin secretion in lactotropic monolayer cell cultures from patients with prolactinoma. In monolayer cell cultures from normal rat anterior pituitary, IL-11 and CNTF had no significant effect on the release of either GH or PRL, or on GH mRNA. However, when the cells were cultured in aggregate cultures, in which the three-dimensional structure of the cells is reconstituted, both cytokines, in doses at which they had no effect on monolayer cultures, significantly stimulated both PRL and GH secretion. These data show that IL-11 and CNTF may act as regulatory factors in anterior pituitary cells, in which the three-dimensional structure of the gland is of critical importance.