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Endocrinology. 1998 May;139(5):2209-16.

Murine leukemia inhibitory factor gene disruption attenuates the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis stress response.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Cedars-Sinai Research Institute, University of California School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90048, USA.


Recently, we have shown that human fetal pituitary, mouse corticotroph AtT20 cells, and murine hypothalamus and pituitary express leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF). LIF knockout mice (LIFKO), heterozygous and wild type (wt), of B6D2F1 genetic background were used to examine whether LIF may play a role in the regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in vivo. Resting levels of plasma ACTH and corticosterone were similar in all three genotypes. However, LIFKO mice did not respond to 30-min restraint and 45-min immobilization stress with increased plasma ACTH. Increased circulating ACTH was only observed in LIFKO mice after very short immobilization stress (15 min), but this ACTH level was lower than in wt animals (P < 0.05). Injection of mycobacterial adjuvant resulted in a 2-fold increase of corticosterone levels 7 days after treatment in wt, but not LIFKO, mice (P < 0.05). Pituitary POMC messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were very low in LIFKO animals. Although 15 and 45 min of immobilization stress resulted in enhanced POMC mRNA content in all three groups, this elevation was lowest in LIFKO mice. Injection of 12 microg murine LIF to LIFKO and normal C57BL/6 animals resulted in increased plasma ACTH and corticosterone levels and elevated pituitary POMC mRNA levels in both LIF-repleted and LIF-depleted mice. Thus, LIF appears to play an important role in activating the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis during stress and inflammation.

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