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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Dec 1, 1993; 90(23): 11292–11296.

Nitric oxide synthase in the rat anterior pituitary gland and the role of nitric oxide in regulation of luteinizing hormone secretion.


By using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, we have demonstrated that the nitric oxide (NO)-synthesizing enzyme NO synthase is present in gonadotrophs and in folliculo-stellate cells of the anterior pituitary gland of male and female rats. A marked increase in levels of NO synthase protein and mRNA was observed after gonadectomy. In vitro studies on dispersed anterior pituitary cells suggest that NO inhibits gonadotropin-releasing-hormone-stimulated luteinizing hormone release. An inhibitory effect of NO has also been shown on growth-hormone-releasing-hormone-stimulated release of growth hormone [Kato, M. (1992) Endocrinology 131, 2133-2138]. Thus these findings support a dual mechanism for NO in the control of anterior pituitary hormone secretion, an autocrine mediation of luteinizing hormone release on gonadotrophs, and a paracrine effect on growth hormone secretion involving folliculo-stellate cells closely related to somatotrophs. We speculate that NO may participate in producing the pulsatile secretion patterns of these two pituitary hormones.

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