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Endocrinology. 2007 Jul;148(7):3131-9. Epub 2007 Apr 5.

Estrogen actions on lactotroph proliferation are independent of a paracrine interaction with other pituitary cell types: a study using lactotroph-enriched cells.

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Department of Physiology, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering, University of Yamanashi, Yamanashi 409-3898, and Division of Blood Transfusion, Shinshu University Hospital, Nagano, Japan.


The mitogenic action of estrogen on estrogen-responsive tissues is suggested to be mediated by paracrine growth factors secreted from neighboring estrogen receptor-positive cells. Using pituitary lactotrophs in primary culture, on which estrogen exerts both mitogenic and antimitogenic actions in a cell context-dependent manner, we investigated whether a paracrine cell-to-cell interaction with other pituitary cell types was required for estrogen action. In pituitary cells, enriched for lactotrophs by 85% using differential sedimentation on a discontinuous Percoll gradient, 17beta-estradiol (E2) showed an antimitogenic action on lactotrophs in the presence of IGF-I, which was similar to that in control unenriched cells. Mitogenic actions were also seen in lactotroph-enriched cells when E2 was administered alone, in combination with serum, or in combination with the adenylate cyclase activator forskolin. Similar results were obtained in 90% lactotroph-enriched cells collected by fluorescence-activated cell sorting from transgenic rats expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein under the control of the prolactin promoter. The putative role of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) as a paracrine factor mediating the mitogenic action of estrogen was not supported by the results that: 1) bFGF inhibited lactotroph proliferation; 2) immunoneutralization of bFGF failed to block E2-induced proliferation; and 3) cellular bFGF levels were not altered by E2 treatment. These results suggest that the antimitogenic and mitogenic actions of estrogen on lactotrophs do not require paracrine signals from other pituitary cell types and that estrogen directly influences lactotroph proliferation.

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