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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jun;90(6):3466-71. Epub 2005 Mar 29.

G protein receptors 7 and 8 are expressed in human adrenocortical cells, and their endogenous ligands neuropeptides B and w enhance cortisol secretion by activating adenylate cyclase- and phospholipase C-dependent signaling cascades.

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  • 1Department of Human Anatomy and Physiology, Section of Anatomy, University of Padova, Via Gabelli 65, I-35121 Padova, Italy.


Neuropeptides B and W (NPB and NPW) are regulatory peptides that act via two subtypes of G protein-coupled receptors, named GPR7 and GPR8. RT-PCR demonstrated the expression of these receptors in both zona glomerulosa and zona fasciculata-reticularis (ZF/R) cells of the human adrenal cortex. NPB and NPW did not affect aldosterone secretion from dispersed zona glomerulosa cells but enhanced cortisol production from ZF/R cells, NPB being more effective than NPW. NPB evoked sizable cAMP and inositol triphosphate responses from ZF/R cells, which were abrogated by the adenylate cyclase inhibitor SQ-22536 and the phospholipase C inhibitor U-73122, respectively. Cortisol response to NPB was lowered by either SQ-22536 and the protein kinase (PK) A inhibitor H-89 or U-73122 and the PKC inhibitor calphostin-C and abolished by the simultaneous exposure to H-89 and calphostin-C. NPW elicited only a rise in cAMP production from dispersed ZF/R cells, and its cortisol response was suppressed by both SQ-22536 and H-89. PreproNPB and preproNPW mRNAs were detected in human adrenal cortexes. We conclude that: 1) NPB and NPW exert a secretagogue action on human ZF/R cells, probably acting in an autocrine-paracrine manner; and 2) the effect of NPB is mediated by both the adenylate cyclase/PKA and the phospholipase C/PKC cascades, whereas that of NPW involves only the activation of the former signaling pathway.

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