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J Mol Endocrinol. 2007 Mar;38(3):383-9.

Role of stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF1/CXCL12) in regulating anterior pituitary function.

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Section of Pharmacology, Department of Oncology Biology and Genetics, University of Genova, Genova, Italy.


Chemokines are key factors involved in the regulation of immune response, through the activation and control of leukocyte traffic, lymphopoiesis and immune surveillance. However, a large number of chemokines and their receptors are expressed in central nervous system (CNS) cells, either constitutively or induced by inflammatory stimuli, playing a role in many neuropathological processes. Stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF1) is a chemokine whose extra-immunological localization and functions have been extensively studied. SDF1 and its receptor CXCR4 were identified in both neurons and glia of many brain areas, including the hypothalamus, as well as at the pituitary level. Importantly, SDF1 and CXCR4 expression is increased in brain tumors in which their activity induced tumor cell proliferation and brain parenchyma invasion. Despite their localization, to date very few reports addressed the role of CXCR4 and SDF1 in the modulation of the hypothalamus/pituitary axis and their possible involvement in the development of pituitary adenomas. In this review, we discuss previous literature data on the role of chemokines in normal and adenomatous pituitary cells, focusing on recent data from our group showing that CXCR4 activation controls proliferation and both prolactin and GH release in the pituitary adenoma cell line GH4C1 through a complex network of intracellular signals. Thus, the SDF1/CXCR4 system together with other chemokinergic ligand-receptor pairs, may represent a novel regulatory pathway for pituitary function and, possibly, be involved in pituitary adenoma development. These lines of evidence suggest that the inhibition of chemokine receptors may represent a novel pharmacological target for the treatment of pituitary adenomas.

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