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J. Walker and H. O. Garland


Whole kidney and renal micropuncture techniques were used to investigate the effects of chronic prolactin treatment on kidney function in anaesthetized female rats. At the whole kidney level, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and fluid reabsorption were both significantly (P<0·02) increased in the hormone-treated group. At the single nephron level, GFR and proximal fluid reabsorption were also increased (P<0·05) by prolactin treatment. Fractional reabsorption was also enhanced at the proximal tubular level in hormone-treated animals. Such changes in renal function are similar to those seen in rat pregnancy and cervically stimulated pseudopregnancy. Since circulating prolactin concentrations are increased in both reproductive states, the hormone may play an important role in establishing the characteristic renal changes seen therein.

J. Endocr. (1985) 107, 127–131

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Oxytocin injected intravenously into anaesthetized rabbits disappears rapidly from the blood stream, and its disappearance is retarded in animals whose liver or kidneys have been excluded from the circulation. The rate of disappearance of injected vasopressin is similar to that of oxytocin in intact rabbits. Homogenates of rabbit liver and kidney inactivate oxytocin rapidly in vitro; the site of inactivation by the kidney is in the tubules and not in the glomeruli.

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A. G. Wheeler, J. Lean and M. Walker


Peripheral blood samples were collected at 10-min intervals from three conscious sheep in which ovulation had been induced 6–10 days previously using exogenous hormones. Saline was infused into a jugular vein for about 1 h, followed by the experimental drug for 1–2 h and followed by saline again for a further 2 h. The experiments were repeated following induced luteolysis and ovulation. The infusion of a β-adrenergic antagonist (propranolol) into three conscious luteal-phase ewes decreased (P<0·05) the peripheral progesterone concentration in each animal. Infusions of β2-adrenergic agonists (ritodrine and salbutamol) increased (P<0·05) the progesterone concentration in four out of eight experiments. The β-adrenergic antagonist decreased the heart rate and the β2-adrenergic agonist increased it; the arterial blood pressure and respiratory rate were unaffected. The decrease in the prosgesterone concentration in response to the β-adrenergic antagonist suggests that the normal ovarian secretion of progesterone is partly the result of sympathetic stimulation, and that the sympathetic innervation of the ovary may have a physiological role in modulating progesterone secretion.

J. Endocr. (1988) 116, 137–142

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V. J. Aloyo and R. F. Walker


The pharmacodynamics of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) uptake and release were studied in rat pineal glands. Initially, uptake was tested by incubating pineals with several concentrations of [3H]5-HT. The incubation media also contained [14C]mannitol to which cells are impermeable. Since [14C]mannitol accumulates only in extracellular spaces, the radio-labelled sugar was used to determine the differential distribution of [3H]5-HT in pineal compartments.

Intracellular accumulation of 3H in pineal glands increased linearly as a function of time for [3H]5-HT concentrations ranging from 1 to 10 μmol/l. The ratio of 3H to 14C also increased for the same time-interval, indicating that the glands accumulated [3H]5-HT preferentially in non-extracellular spaces. [3H]5-HT accumulated in pineal glands which were denervated for more than 7 days before testing, suggesting that uptake is not restricted to adrenergic terminals but also occurs in pinealocytes.

In addition to uptake, spontaneous and noradrenaline-stimulated release of [3H]5-HT was tested in perifusion and/or step-transfer systems. Spontaneous release of [3H]5-HT was biphasic consisting of rapid and slower efflux phases. In contrast, release of [14C]mannitol was monophasic, characterized exclusively by rapid efflux. Since [14C]mannitol does not enter cells, the rapid and slower phases of [3H]5-HT efflux may represent release from pineal extracellular and intracellular compartments respectively. The identity of [3H]5-HT in pineal glands and perifusion media was confirmed by thin-layer chromatography. When l-noradrenaline was added to the perifusion media, [3H]5-HT efflux during the slower phase of release was significantly increased above the non-stimulated state. In contrast, d-noradrenaline was significantly less effective than l-noradrenaline in releasing [3H]5-HT. Noradrenaline also stimulated [3H]5-HT release from denervated glands, suggesting that pinealocytes secrete 5-HT in response to noradrenergic signals.

Since the pineal is innervated by fibres of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system, differential release of 5-HT may occur in response to changing levels of glandular noradrenaline.

J. Endocr. (1987) 114, 3–9

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J. E. Russell, W. V. Walker and D. J. Simmons


Young, growing rats which had been chronically (2 weeks) adrenalectomized or parathyroidectomized were used to define the roles of the adrenal and parathyroid glands on the maintenance of normal circadian rhythms of DNA, collagen and non-collagen protein synthesis in the skeleton. The animals were conditioned to food being available ad libitum and to 12 h light: 12 h darkness (lights on from 08.00 to 20.00 h). The pace of DNA, collagen and non-collagen protein synthesis in different regions of the tibia (tibial growth cartilage, metaphysial bone and diaphysial bone) was measured by the in-vivo incorporation of tritiated thymidine (1 h) and radioactive proline (48 h). In intact rats there were no regional differences in the phasing of the circadian profiles; peak DNA and non-collagen protein synthesis occurred at the onset of the dark period while peak collagen synthesis occurred during the middle of the period of light. Adrenalectomy selectively abolished the regional DNA synthesis rhythms without altering the phases of the serum Ca and phosphorus (P) rhythms, which peak at mid-day and at the onset of darkness respectively. Parathyroidectomy abolished the regional rhythms for collagen and non-collagen protein synthesis and serum Ca rhythms, without altering the phase of the serum P and corticosterone rhythms. Dietary Ca-lactate supplements, which raised serum Ca levels towards normal in parathyroidectomized rats, were able to correct serum corticosterone values but did not normalize bone collagen and non-collagen protein synthesis values. These data indicate that the adrenal rhythm governs the proliferative activities of bone and cartilage cells, and that parathyroid hormone is essential to maintain normal collagen and non-collagen protein synthesis rhythms.

J. Endocr. (1984) 103, 49–57

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I. Meikle, J. D. Hayes and S. W. Walker


Bovine adrenal cortex tissue expresses high levels of glutathione S-transferase (GST) from each of the α, μ and π gene families. We describe the purification and characterization of an abundant α-class GST from this tissue that has not been identified previously because of its failure to bind to S-hexylglutathione–Sepharose 6B (S-hexG-Ag). This enzyme has been affinity purified on glutathione–Sepharose 6B (GSH-Ag) and was obtained in a highly purified form by employing S-hexG-Ag to remove the bulk of GST before chromatography on GSH-Ag. The purified GST eluted from GSH-Ag was found to exhibit marked peroxidase and Δ5-ketosteroid isomerase activities (19·2 and 1·67 U/mg respectively). The bovine enzyme also showed high GST activity towards 4-hydroxynonenal (5·09 U/mg). Sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis revealed that the bovine GST contains two distinct polypeptides, one with an M r of 25 900 and the other with an M r of 26 500.

An abundant α-class GST was also purified from human adrenal cortex that possessed properties which were similar to the bovine α-class GST described above; however, unlike the bovine enzyme, the corresponding human α-class GST bound to S-hexG-Ag. As with the bovine enzyme, the purified human GST displayed marked peroxidase and isomerase activities (27 and 4·02 U/mg respectively). Further analysis on SDS-PAGE (M r 25 800) and reverse-phase highperformance liquid chromatography established that this abundant α-class GST in human adrenal cortex is equivalent to the human liver GST B1B1 enzyme.

As both human and bovine adrenal cortex contain high levels of α-class GST with similar catalytic properties, we discuss the possible functions of these enzymes in this tissue.

Journal of Endocrinology (1992) 132, 83–92

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C-D Walker, J B Mitchell and B C Woodside


It has been shown that restricting food in lactating rats for the first 2 weeks postpartum at a level of 60% of the ad-libitum daily ration increases the length of lactational dioestrus by about 7 days but little is known about correlated changes in hormone levels. In the first experiment we report changes in LH, prolactin (PRL) and ACTH secretion in food-restricted and ad-libitum fed lactating rats at various stages of lactation. Our results demonstrate that food restriction during the first 2 weeks of lactation did not affect PRL or ACTH secretion, but decreased plasma LH levels despite comparable GnRH receptor density between food-restricted and ad-libitum fed females. In the second experiments we investigated a possible causal relationship between the increased secretion of progesterone seen in food-restricted females and the suppression of plasma LH levels, by determining the effects of bromocryptine treatment and ovariectomy on LH secretion in both ad-libitum fed and food-restricted lactating females. LH suppression in food-restricted lactating females was not affected by ovariectomy or bromocryptine treatment, although the latter treatment significantly increased GnRH receptor number. These data suggest that factors other than ovarian steroids, PRL or increased adrenocortical activity modulate LH secretion and the length of lactational dioestrus in food-restricted lactating females.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 146, 95–104

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M. H. Hastings, A. P. Walker and J. Herbert


This study investigated the relationship of two overt circadian rhythms, locomotor activity and melatonin synthesis in the pineal gland, by comparing their responses to asymmetrical reductions in photoperiod. Transfer of male Syrian hamsters from long to short daylengths led to an increase in the duration of both locomotor activity and the period of melatonin synthesis. Over the course of re-entrainment, the two rhythms were held in a stable phase relationship, and the direction of the switch did not influence the rate of decompression or the final phase relationships established after 8 weeks in short daylengths. Decompression of the activity rhythm was not influenced by pinealectomy. Exposure to short photoperiods caused gonadal regression and a consequent decline in serum testosterone levels from 10 to <1 nmol/l. The direction of the photoperiodic switch did not affect the time-course of gonadal regression. These data demonstrate the important influence of photoperiod upon the duration of the nocturnal peak of melatonin production by the pineal and also demonstrate that this effect is one example of a more widespread response of the circadian system. A qualitatively similar signal controls both locomotor activity and melatonin synthesis, although the neural basis of this common mechanism is unclear.

J. Endocr. (1987) 114, 221–229

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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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P W F Hadoke, R S Lindsay, J R Seckl, B R Walker and C J Kenyon

Excessive exposure to glucocorticoids during gestation reduces birth weight and induces permanent hypertension in adulthood. The mechanisms underlying this programmed elevation of blood pressure have not been established. We hypothesised that prenatal glucocorticoid exposure may lead to vascular dysfunction in adulthood. Pregnant rats received dexamethasone (Dex) (100 μg/kg, s.c.) or vehicle (control) daily throughout pregnancy. Blood pressure was elevated (students t-test, unpaired; P < 0.05) in adult female offspring (aged 12–16 weeks) of Dex-treated mothers (148.0 ± 3.6 mmHg, n=10) compared with the control group (138.0 ± 2.5 mmHg, n=8). Vascular responsiveness in aortae and mesenteric arteries was differentially affected by prenatal Dex: aortae were less responsive to angiotensin II, whereas mesenteric arteries were more responsive to norepinephrine, vasopressin and potassium (mesenteric arteries respond poorly to angiotensin II in vitro). Acetylcholine-mediated, endothelium-dependent relaxation was similar in both groups. Prenatal exposure to Dex had no effect on blood pressure or aldosterone response to acute (15 min, i.v.) infusion of angiotensin II (75 ng/kg per min). In contrast, chronic (2-week, s.c.) infusion of angiotensin II (100 ng/kg per min) produced a greater elevation (P < 0.05) of blood pressure in Dex-treated rats (150.0 ± 3.6 mmHg) than in controls (135.3 ± 5.4 mmHg), and aldosterone levels were higher in Dex-treated animals. There was no angiotensin II-induced medial hypertrophy/hyperplasia in mesenteric arteries from Dex-treated rats. These results indicate that vascular function is altered in a region-specific manner in rats with glucocorticoid-programmed hypertension. Despite a striking increase in mesenteric artery contraction in Dex-treated rats, in vivo studies suggest that abnormalities of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, rather than enhanced vascular contractility, may be responsible for the elevation of blood pressure in these animals.