Send to

Choose Destination
Int Rev Cytol. 2006;249:1-51.

Endogenous ligands of PACAP/VIP receptors in the autocrine-paracrine regulation of the adrenal gland.

Author information

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Padua, I-35121 Padua, Italy.


Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) are the main endogenous ligands of a class of G protein-coupled receptors (Rs). Three subtypes of PACAP/VIP Rs have been identified and named PAC(1)-Rs, VPAC(1)-Rs, and VPAC(2)-Rs. The PAC(1)-R almost exclusively binds PACAP, while the other two subtypes bind with about equal efficiency VIP and PACAP. VIP, PACAP, and their receptors are widely distributed in the body tissues, including the adrenal gland. VIP and PACAP are synthesized in adrenomedullary chromaffin cells, and are released in the adrenal cortex and medulla by VIPergic and PACAPergic nerve fibers. PAC(1)-Rs are almost exclusively present in the adrenal medulla, while VPAC(1)-Rs and VPAC(2)-Rs are expressed in both the adrenal cortex and medulla. Evidence indicates that VIP and PACAP, acting via VPAC(1)-Rs and VPAC(2)-Rs coupled to adenylate cyclase (AC)- and phospholipase C (PLC)-dependent cascades, stimulate aldosterone secretion from zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells. There is also proof that they can also enhance aldosterone secretion indirectly, by eliciting the release from medullary chromaffin cells of catecholamines and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which in turn may act on the cortical cells in a paracrine manner. The involvement of VIP and PACAP in the regulation of glucocorticoid secretion from inner adrenocortical cells is doubtful and surely of minor relevance. VIP and PACAP stimulate the synthesis and release of adrenomedullary catecholamines, and all three subtypes of PACAP/VIP Rs mediate this effect, PAC(1)-Rs being coupled to AC, VPAC(1)-Rs to both AC and PLC, and VPAC(2)-Rs only to PLC. A privotal role in the catecholamine secretagogue action of VIP and PACAP is played by Ca(2+). VIP and PACAP may also modulate the growth of the adrenal cortex and medulla. The concentrations attained by VIP and PACAP in the blood rule out the possibility that they act as true circulating hormones. Conversely, their adrenal content is consistent with a local autocrine-paracrine mechanism of action.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center