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F. Di Carlo, S. Racca, G. Conti, E. Gallo, G. Muccioli, A. Sapino, and G. Bussolati


The changes in oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin receptor levels in target organs, and the macroscopic and microscopic modifications of uterus, ovary, adrenal and pituitary gland induced by long-term administration of high doses of medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) were investigated in female rats. Medroxyprogesterone acetate was injected i.m. for 30 days at daily doses of 7·5, 15 and 75 mg/kg. Oestrogen and/or progesterone-binding capacities were remarkably reduced at all doses of MPA used both in the uterus and pituitary gland. Furthermore, MPA caused a very evident reduction in the weight of pituitary glands, ovaries, adrenals and uterus.

In all MPA-treated rats corpora lutea were absent from the ovaries, whereas the adrenals showed a significant reduction in the thickness of the cortex. In accordance with this, there was no evidence of ACTH-producing cells in the pituitary glands. Prolactin-producing cells were also absent, while GH-producing cells were present. Serum prolactin levels were significantly reduced at all doses of MPA used. A dramatic reduction of prolactin receptor concentrations was observed in the liver and the ovaries of MPA-treated rats.

The results suggest that MPA acts as an antioestrogenic drug both by reducing the number of oestrogen receptors in target tissues and by changing the structure (and perhaps the function) of those organs (pituitary glands, ovaries and adrenals) which are, directly or indirectly, a source of oestrogens. The decreased synthesis of prolactin and the reduction of the number of prolactin receptors (which, on the contrary, are both increased by oestrogens) might be considered as additional antioestrogenic effects of MPA.

J. Endocr. (1984) 103, 287–293

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A Dovio, ML Sartori, RG Masera, B Ceoloni, G Reimondo, P Prolo, S Racca, and A Angeli

It has recently been suggested that interleukin (IL)-11 plays a role in the pathogenesis of glucocorticoid (GC)-induced osteoporosis. IL-11 belongs to the gp130 cytokine family, which includes also IL-6. We have previously investigated GC-IL-6 interplay, showing that GC inhibits IL-6 release and IL-6 up-regulates GC receptor (GR) numbers in the human osteoblast-like cell lines Saos-2 and MG-63, which constitutively have an opposite pattern of expression for GR, IL-11, IL-6, alkaline phosphatase and osteoprotegerin (OPG). The aim of this study was to investigate GC-IL-11 interplay in the same two cell lines. First, cells were incubated with cortisol (0.01-1 microM) for 20 h in the presence and in the absence of a known IL-11 secretagogue (IL-1beta); cell media were assayed for IL-11 by ELISA. Secondly, cells were incubated with IL-11 (0.1-100 ng/ml) or specific anti-IL-11 monoclonal antibody for 20 h, and then assayed for GR by a radioligand binding assay. Similar to IL-6, both constitutive and IL-1beta-inducible IL-11 release were dose-dependently inhibited by cortisol (P<0.01); at variance with IL-6, exogenous IL-11 dose-dependently decreased GR numbers in MG-63 cells (P<0.05), while anti-IL-11 antibody significantly increased GR numbers in both cell lines (P<0.05). IL-11-induced reduction of GR in MG-63 cells was confirmed by Western blot analysis. While exerting opposite effects on GR numbers, neither IL-6 nor IL-11 significantly modified GC-dependent inhibition of OPG release. Our data indicate that even physiological concentrations of cortisol negatively modulate IL-11 secretion and demonstrate, for the first time, an inhibitory effect of the cytokine on GR. Thus, the concept of autocrine-paracrine loops that modulate GC action and involve gp130 cytokines is corroborated. These loops could have clinical relevance for the dynamics of bone loss in patients given GC and having high concentrations of these cytokines in the bone microenvironment.