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D. F. Carmignac and I. C. A. F. Robinson

ABSTRACT

The new mutant GH-deficient dwarf (Dw) rat was used to study the effects of GH-releasing factor (GRF) or somatostatin (SRIF) on GH release. In anaesthetized adult Dw female rats, i.v. injections of GRF (0·031–2·0μg) elicited a dose-dependent release of GH. Although the peak plasma GH responses to maximal GRF doses were much lower in adult Dw rats compared with normal rats of this strain (AS), the responses largely reflected their relative pituitary GH contents (140±17 μg vs 2·9±0·4 μg, AS vs Dw (means ± s.e.m.), P < 0·001). Except at 20 days of age, normal AS rats were more sensitive to GRF than Dw rats despite their larger body weight. Peak GH responses to injection of 31·25 ng GRF increased nine-fold in normal rats between 20 and 40 days, whereas the GH responses to this GRF dose diminished in Dw rats over this age range, and their pituitary GH content was only 2–5% of that of age-matched AS rats. Treatment with human GH (200 μg/day for 7 days) stimulated growth in 40-day-old Dw rats and slightly increased the GH response to a low dose of GRF. Basal GH levels in adult Dw animals were sevenfold lower than in AS rats (2·4±0·3 vs 17·6±3·3 μg/l P < 0·001) and were further suppressed by i.v. infusion of SRIF (25 μg/h). As in normal rats, a rebound GH secretion occurred in Dw rats after stopping SRIF, which was blocked by injection of anti-GRF serum. The disappearance rate of 125I-labelled rat GH from plasma was identical in AS and Dw rats. We conclude that dwarf rats show GH deficiency as early as 20 days of age; they respond to GRF, but release only small amounts of GH due to their reduced pituitary GH content. Although basal GH release is reduced in Dw rats, the levels are higher than would be expected from the 50-fold reduction in pituitary stores, and may reflect a chronic reduction in SRIF and/or increase in GRF release induced by prolonged GH deficiency in the Dw rat.

Journal of Endocrinology (1990) 127, 69–75

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I. C. A. F. ROBINSON and J. A. PARSONS

Lactating guinea-pigs were passively immunized with an antiserum to oxytocin of high titre, specificity and avidity. Single i.v. injections of 0·1–0·4 ml antiserum produced high titres which decayed slowly (half-life ≃7 days). Passively administered antiserum was effective in vivo; the clearance of exogenous oxytocin from plasma was greatly slowed in immunized animals. Passive immunization with 0·4 ml antiserum reduced milk transfer to the litter during suckling episodes of 10 min, and overall litter growth rates were significantly decreased. Non-immune serum was without effect. Plasma neurophysin levels showed the same large rises during suckling in immunized animals, indicating that neurohypophysial activation was unimpaired. Despite the presence of high titres of antiserum, some milk transfer still occurred at milk ejection. In-vitro experiments showed that more than 25% of oxytocin remained free 20 s after mixing with plasma taken from passively immunized animals. It is probable that the antiserum in the circulation was unable to bind all the oxytocin released from the posterior pituitary gland before it reached the mammary gland.

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K M Fairhall, A Mynett, and I C A F Robinson

Abstract

Growth hormone (GH) release is stimulated by a variety of synthetic secretagogues, of which growth hormone-releasing hexapeptide (GHRP-6) has been most thoroughly studied; it is thought to have actions at both pituitary and hypothalamic sites. To evaluate the central actions of this peptide, we have studied GH release in response to direct i.c.v. injections in anaesthetized guinea pigs. GHRP-6 (0·04–1 μg) stimulated GH release >10-fold 30–40 min after i.c.v. injection. The same GH response required >20-fold more GHRP-6 when given by i.v. injection. GH release could also be elicited by a non-peptide GHRP analogue (L-692,585, 1 μg i.c.v.), whereas a growth hormone-releasing factor (GRF) analogue (human GRF 27Nle(1–29)NH2, 2 μg, i.c.v.) was ineffective. A long acting somatostatin analogue (Sandostatin, SMS 201–995, 10 μg i.c.v.) (SMS) given 20 min before 200 ng GHRP-6 blocked GH release. This was unlikely to be due to a direct effect of SMS leaking out to the pituitary, since central SMS injections did not affect basal GH release, nor did they block GH release in response to i.v. GRF injections. We conclude that the hypothalamus is a major target for GHRP-6 in vivo. Since the GH release induced by central GHRP-6 injections can be inhibited by a central action of somatostatin, and other data indicate that GHRP-6 activates GRF neurones, we suggest that somatostatin may block this activation via receptors known to be located on or near the GRF cells themselves. Somatostatin may therefore be a functional antagonist of GHRP-6 acting centrally, as well as at the pituitary gland.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 144, 555–560

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A. M. Horn, I. C. A. F. Robinson, and G. Fink

ABSTRACT

Oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (VP) were measured by radioimmunoassay in hypophysial portal and peripheral blood from male Wistar rats and heterozygous and homozygous Brattleboro rats anaesthetized with urethane. In Wistar rats the concentrations of OT and VP were about 50 times greater than the concentrations in peripheral blood, whether or not the pituitary gland was left in situ during collection, and also considerably greater than the reported concentrations of the peptides in the cerebrospinal fluid. The release of both peptides was increased significantly by a lesion of the supraoptico-hypophysial tract that led to diabetes insipidus, but which left intact the external layer of the median eminence (ME). Concentrations of VP were undetectable in plasma from homozygous Brattleboro rats, but the portal plasma concentrations of VP in heterozygous Brattleboro rats were not significantly lower than in Wistar rats. The concentrations of OT in portal plasma from both types of Brattleboro rat were significantly higher than in Wistar rats.

The output of VP and OT into hypophysial portal blood of Wistar rats was not significantly affected by electrical stimulation of the suprachiasmatic, supraoptic or paraventricular nuclei or the ME using two types of stimuli, one of which produced an increase in peripheral plasma concentrations of VP and OT in intact rats and a significant increase in the release of LH-releasing hormone into hypophysial portal blood. The output of VP and OT into portal blood was also not significantly affected by either adrenalectomy with or without injection of dexamethasone or the injection of either the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) synthesis blocker, parachlorophenylalanine, or the 5-HT uptake blockers, alaproclate or zimelidine.

These results show that large amounts of OT as well as VP are released into hypophysial portal blood from fibres of the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system that terminate in the external layer of the ME. Although distinct from the fibres that terminate in the pars nervosa (PN), the findings in Brattleboro rats show that the VP fibres of the ME system originate in neurones with a genomic mechanism for VP synthesis similar to that of the VP neurones that project to the PN. The lack of effect of adrenalectomy and the administration of 5-HT synthesis and uptake blockers must be interpreted with caution since the results obtained with electrical stimulation suggest that when the pituitary stalk is cut the release of OT and VP into portal blood approaches a maximum and may therefore be difficult to alter by experimental manipulation. The concentrations of OT and VP in portal blood are sufficiently high for these peptides to play a significant role in neural control of the anterior pituitary gland.

J. Endocr. (1985) 104, 211–224

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B. Gabrielsson, K. M. Fairhall, and I. C. A. F. Robinson

ABSTRACT

The guinea-pig is unusual in that it continues to grow at a normal rate after hypophysectomy. Although its pituitary gland appears to contain a GH, this has not been isolated or characterized, and nothing is known about its secretion or physiological control. We have identified guinea-pig GH, established a sensitive heterologous radioimmunoassay and adapted our automatic blood microsampling method to study spontaneous GH secretion in this species. In male guinea-pigs, GH is released in an episodic pattern, reminiscent of the rat. Large multicomponent pulses of GH secretion occur every 3–4 h between periods of low or undetectable GH release, whereas most females showed a more uniform pulsatile pattern with pulses every 1–2 h. GH was released in response to GH-releasing factor (GRF) injections (2, 10 or 20 μg [Nle27]-GRF(1–29)NH2) in a dose-dependent fashion, and i.v. infusion of somatostatin (50 μg/h) blocked spontaneous GH pulses, eliciting a rebound release (from 2·0±0·8 (s.e.m.) to 36±17 μg/l 30 min after stopping the infusion). Infusions of a GH-releasing hexapeptide (100 or 400 μg/h for 4 h) also released GH.

These results provide the first description of the pattern of GH release in the guinea-pig, and suggest that the striking episodic pattern is controlled by the same hypothalamic peptides that regulate GH in other species. Since the guinea-pig grows well in the absence of GH, this species may use GH for its metabolic, rather than growth-promoting actions. The guinea-pig may well prove a useful model, now that methods are available for studying its endogenous GH secretion.

Journal of Endocrinology (1990) 124, 371–380

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I. C. A. F. ROBINSON and J. M. WALKER

The use of agarose-bound neurophysin for the extraction of oxytocin from biological fluids is described. Oxytocin can be extracted from plasma, urine and cerebrospinal fluid with a high rate of recovery and samples varying widely in volume and oxytocin concentration can be tested by the method.

Columns can be used to extract and concentrate dilute samples, or to help identify small amounts of neurohypophysial hormones by affinity chromatography. The oxytocin can be eluted from the column directly into the buffer used for subsequent bioassay. The composition of the final extract is constant and independent of the composition of the sample. The specificity of the binding is high. It is suggested that the method has many advantages over others in current use.

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R. G. Clark and I. C. A. F. Robinson

ABSTRACT

The GH responses to single i.v. injections of GH-releasing factor (GRF) in conscious male rats are highly variable. Although normal male rats show a pulsatile secretory pattern of GH with pulses occurring at intervals of 3–3·5 h, the peaks occur at different times in individual animals. We have compared the GH responses of young conscious male and female rats to multiple i.v. injections of 1 μg human (h) GRF1-29NH2. The peak GH responses occurred 3–5 min after hGRF1-29NH2 injection and were lower in female than in male rats. Both males and females responded uniformly to hGRF1-29NH2 injections given 180 min apart and the GH responses became entrained with no endogenous GH pulsing. Female rats produced consistent GH peaks in response to hGRF1-29NH2 injections at 90-min intervals, whereas male rats responded only to alternate injections, so that GH peaks occurred only every 180 min despite giving GRF every 90 min. When the frequency of hGRF1-29NH2 administration was increased to once every 40 min female rats again responded consistently to each injection. Male rats responded intermittently, being able to respond to two injections 40 min apart, after which they became refractory to hGRF1-29NH2. This cycle of varying sensitivity to GRF in male rats probably underlies their 3-hourly endogenous GH secretory rhythm. Female rats can respond uniformly to repeated GRF injections, consistent with their more continuous pattern of endogenous GH secretion. Introducing a pulse of 10 μg rat GH into a series of hGRF1-29NH2 injections did not induce refractoriness to hGRF1-29NH2, suggesting that GH does not itself desensitize the pituitary to GRF. Whether the different patterns of GH secretion in males and females result from different patterns of GRF and/or somatostatin secretion remains to be determined.

J. Endocr. (1985) 106, 281–289

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G. D. Burford and I. C. A. F. Robinson

The content of vasopressin, oxytocin and their related neurophysins was measured in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland of mid-trimester human fetuses. Vasopressin was present in both tissues approximately 3–4 weeks before oxytocin. The levels of the hormones in the pituitary gland increased 1000-fold over the next 3–4 months. During this time, the very high vasopressin/oxytocin ratio gradually decreased but did not reach unity in the period studied. In contrast, both the vasopressin-associated neurophysin and the oxytocin-associated neurophysin appeared in the pituitary gland at the same gestational age and showed the same exponential increase with fetal age. Lower levels of the neurophysins and the nonapeptides were found in the hypothalamus and the levels increased more slowly with fetal age. Our results suggest that the high vasopressin/oxytocin ratios observed in fetal life are due to differences in the rate of maturation of the hormone precursor, rather than to differences in the rate of de-novo synthesis.

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P. M. Jones, T. Saermark, and I. C. A. F. Robinson

ABSTRACT

Guinea-pig neural lobes contain appreciable amounts of neurophysin with a glycopeptide extension (NPGP) which may represent a partially processed form of the arginine vasopressin (AVP) precursor. We have now studied the turnover and release of the NPGP component using a combination of in-vivo radiolabel incorporation and high pressure liquid chromatography. Measurement of the neural lobe content of 35S-labelled peptides at various times after hypothalamic injection of [35S]cysteine demonstrated that the oxytocin-related products accumulated more rapidly than the AVP-related products. The relative amounts of [35S]cysteine incorporated into NPGP and the AVP-related neurophysin (NPavp) changed markedly with time after in-vivo labelling. In-vitro incubation of neurosecretory granules prepared from neural lobes 4 h after radiolabel injection produced a time- and temperature-dependent conversion of NPGP to NPavp. Incubation at 37 °C for 4 h produced a 30% decrease in [35S]NPGP with a concomitant increase in [35S]NPavp, whilst there were no changes in the other 35S-labelled components. In-vitro stimulation of radiolabelled neural lobes by 56 mm-K+ evoked a Ca++-dependent release of NPGP as well as the other expected neurosecretory components, and the amount of NPGP released reflected its neural lobe content. We conclude that the NPGP component found in guinea-pig neural lobes is a biosynthetic intermediate, most of which is further processed to NPavp. However, some NPGP may also be secreted from the neural lobe in an intact form.

J. Endocr. (1984) 103, 347–354

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R. G. Clark and I. C. A. F. Robinson

ABSTRACT

The 'Little' mouse is characterized by a body growth rate 60% of normal due to a defect in the synthesis and storage of GH in the anterior pituitary gland. We have now investigated the effects of GH releasing factor (GRF) in these mice and in normal animals. The pituitary GH content in Little mice was only 4% of that in normal C57: +/+ mice, and was not affected by twice daily i.p. injections of human (h) GRF1-29NH2 (0·2−2 μg) for 14 days. This treatment also had no effect on body growth. In anaesthetized normal mice, single i.v. injections of 0·1 or 2 μg hGRF1-29NH2 released large amounts of GH into the plasma, whereas this peptide was ineffective in Little mice, whether or not they had been pretreated with GRF. Therefore, although pituitaries of Little mice contain significant amounts of GH, this pool is not releasable by GRF. This suggests that the dwarfism in Little mice may be partly due to a pituitary defect in GRF receptors or their stimulus-secretion coupling, rather than a deficiency in hypothalamic GRF.

J. Endocr. (1985) 106, 1–5