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J Endocrinol. 1992 Jul;134(1):149-54.

Tissue kallikrein is associated with prolactin-secreting cells within human growth hormone-secreting adenomas.

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  • 1University Department of Medicine, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, U.K.


Tissue kallikrein is a serine protease which may be involved in the intracellular processing of prolactin in the anterior pituitary gland. The expression of tissue kallikrein, in the rat, is promoted by oestrogen and inhibited by dopamine. Human and rat prolactinomas contain markedly increased amounts of tissue kallikrein; this is comparatively reduced if patients are pretreated with the dopamine agonist, bromocriptine, before surgery. Some GH-secreting adenomas are mixed and also contain prolactin-secreting cells. We therefore investigated 27 GH-immunostaining human pituitary adenomas for the presence of immunoreactive tissue kallikrein. Sixteen of the adenomas had positive immunostaining for prolactin; eight of these patients had associated clinical hyperprolactinaemia before the tumour was removed. Tissue kallikrein immunoreactivity was found in ten adenomas, all of which also had prolactin immunopositivity. There was a close relationship between the percentage of cells staining for prolactin and tissue kallikrein but not for GH. A further eight adenomas had patchy positivity, i.e. less than 1% of cells immunostained for tissue kallikrein and six of these also had some prolactin-staining cells. Nine out of eleven purely GH-staining adenomas had no tissue kallikrein immunopositivity, the remaining two showing patchy staining. A review of bromocriptine responsiveness, as assessed by mean GH hormone levels during oral glucose tolerance tests before and after therapy was commenced, indicated that patients with adenomas which stained for prolactin and tissue kallikrein were more likely to respond to bromocriptine than those which failed to do so.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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