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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1991 Dec;35(6):455-66.

Dopamine, the dopamine D2 receptor and pituitary tumours.

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  • 1Unit of Metabolic Medicine, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London, UK.


Dopamine plays an important role in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis where its major effects are to inhibit pituitary hormone secretion and cell division. Chronic dopamine deficiency has been postulated as a cause of pituitary tumour formation and several lines of evidence exist to suggest that a functional deficiency may develop as a result of defective dopamine receptor action. The available data suggest that a number of sites in the dopamine-D2 receptor-second messenger pathways may be implicated. These abnormalities are reflected in the variety of responses to dopamine and its agonists which have been observed in pituitary tumours both in the clinical situation and in cultured cells in vitro. Whilst it seems likely that the primary defect in pituitary tumour formation lies within the pituitary itself, the role of hypothalamic factors in facilitating tumour growth remains to be explored. Further studies of the dopamine receptor and its function will be of value not only in pathophysiological studies of human pituitary adenomas, but also in the development of new pharmacological agents to treat patients with these tumours.

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