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M S Morton, G Wilcox, M L Wahlqvist, and K Griffiths


Plasma levels of the lignans enterodiol and enterolactone, and also the isoflavonic phyto-oestrogens daidzein, equol and genistein, are reported for postmenopausal Australian women consuming a traditional diet supplemented with linseed, soya flour or clover sprouts. Analysis was performed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, after enzymatic hydrolysis and ion-exchange chromatography. Following linseed supplementation, combined levels of enterolactone and enterodiol reached 500 ng/ml, whereas after soya flour or clover sprouts the respective concentrations of equol, daidzein and genistein reached 43, 312 and 148 ng/ml. Not all subjects were able to produce equol from daidzein. The possible relationship and role of these weak dietary oestrogens as restraining factors in the development of hormone-dependent cancers in Asian populations is discussed.

Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 142, 251–259

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B A J Evans, K Griffiths, and M S Morton


Isoflavonoids and lignans, constituents of many plant foods, have been proposed as protective agents in those populations with a low incidence of hormone-dependent cancers. They may act by their inhibition of the metabolism of growth-promoting steroid hormones. This report describes the inhibition of 5α-reductase and 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase by six isoflavonoids and two lignans in human genital skin fibroblast monolayers and homogenates, and in benign prostatic hyperplasia tissue homogenates. In genital skin fibroblasts, genistein, biochanin A and equol were the most potent inhibitors of 5α-reductase activity, each resulting in greater than 80% inhibition at a concentration of 100 μm. The IC50 values for genistein and a seven-compound mixture were approximately 35 μm and 20 μm (2·9 μm of each compound) respectively. Of the lignans, enterolactone was the most potent inhibitor. Inhibition by biochanin A was shown to be reversible. When genital skin fibroblast homogenates were used, biochanin A was found to inhibit 5α-reductase isozymes 1 and 2 to differing extents (30% and 75% respectively). Genistein was shown to inhibit 5α-reductase 2 in a non-competitive nature (Vmax and Km values without and with inhibitor were 30 and 20 pmol/mg protein per h and 177 and 170 nm respectively). All of the compounds tested inhibited 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in genital skin fibroblast monolayers. When prostate tissue homogenates were used, the compounds tested were better inhibitors of 5α-reductase 1 than 2. It is possible that a life-long dietary exposure to these lignans and isoflavonoids may have a significant influence on the development of hormone-dependent tumours.

Journal of Endocrinology (1995) 147, 295–302

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DA Zieba, M Amstalden, S Morton, JL Gallino, JF Edwards, PG Harms, and GL Williams

We have shown recently that leptin modulates at least two aspects of anterior pituitary LH release in ruminants: basal and GnRH-mediated release. To test the hypothesis that leptin directly affects basal and GHRH-mediated GH secretion from the adenohypophysis, we examined the effects of various doses of recombinant ovine leptin (oleptin) on perifused adenohypophyseal (AP) explants and compared responses of tIssues from control and fasted cows. Ten mature, ovariectomized and estradiol-implanted cows were assigned to one of two dietary groups: (1) normal-fed (n=5) and (2) fasted for 72 h (n=5). At the end of the fasting period, cows were euthanized and pituitaries were collected. Adenohypophyseal explants were perifused for a total of 6.5 h, including a 2-h treatment at 2.5 h with Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate buffer containing 0, 5, 10, 50, or 100 ng/ml oleptin, and a challenge with GHRH at 4.5 h. All doses of oleptin greater than 5 ng/ml decreased (P<0.01) basal GH secretion compared with controls in tIssues collected from normal-fed cows. In contrast, GH release from AP explants from fasted cows treated with the lowest dose of oleptin was 28% (P<0.002) higher than control explants, but larger doses had no effect. Leptin caused an inversely related, dose-dependent increase in GHRH-mediated GH release in tIssues from normal-fed cows. Marked increases (P<0.01-P<0.001) in GH release were observed for the 5 and 10 ng/ml oleptin, with lesser (P<0.08) and no effects observed at the 50 and 100 ng/ml doses respectively. In fasted cows, oleptin had no stimulatory effect on GHRH-induced GH release. Results show that leptin can act directly at the anterior pituitary level to modulate GH release, and this effect is dependent upon nutritional history.

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S. J. Dunmore, M. A. Cawthorne, D. C. J. Hislop, J. L. Morton, and A. Beloff-Chain


The neurointermediate pituitary peptide β-cell tropin (BCT) has potent insulin-releasing and lipogenic properties and is elevated in obesity and type-2 diabetes. The effects of BCT and glucose on the release of insulin and amylin from the perfused pancreas of obese 'fatty' (fa/fa) rats and lean (Fa/?) controls were measured. Pancreata were perfused, sequentially, with buffer containing: 5·6 mmol glucose/l (basal); basal glucose±0·5 nmol BCT/l; 16·7 mmol glucose/l (high). Insulin and amylin release during basal glucose treatment was eight to nine times greater from pancreata from fatty than from lean rats. BCT induced a fivefold greater monophasic insulin and amylin release from fatty compared with lean pancreata. When not preceded by BCT there was a twofold greater high glucose-induced amylin release from fatty pancreata but no difference in insulin secretion. When preceded by BCT stimulation, high glucose induced twofold greater insulin and fourfold larger amylin release from fatty compared with lean pancreata. Molar secretion ratios of insulin: amylin varied between 30:1 and 50:1. In view of the elevated levels of BCT found in the fatty rat and in the light of the above findings, it is concluded that the peptide may have a role in the development of hyperinsulinaemia, hyperamylinaemia and insulin resistance in this animal model of obesity and diabetes.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 137, 375–381

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A. Salvatoni, S. J. Dunmore, J. L. Morton, A. T. Etienne, A. Beloff-Chain, and R. R. Abraham


It has been demonstrated that the insulin secretagogue β-cell-trophin, ACTH(22–39), is present in human plasma. The hormone, separated from plasma by affinity chromatography on a corticotrophin-like intermediate-lobe peptide antibody column, behaves similarly to synthetic β-cell-trophin on a gel filtration column and on reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Sufficient amounts of the hormone were isolated from the plasma of two patients with Nelson's syndrome to demonstrate its biological activity on the perfused rat pancreas.

J. Endocr. (1986) 110, 303–307