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Endocrinology. 2012 Aug;153(8):3668-78. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1135. Epub 2012 Jun 14.

The regulation of Rasd1 expression by glucocorticoids and prolactin controls peripartum maternal insulin secretion.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


The transition from gestation to lactation is characterized by a robust adaptation of maternal pancreatic β-cells. Consistent with the loss of β-cell mass, glucose-induced insulin secretion is down-regulated in the islets of early lactating dams. Extensive experimental evidence has demonstrated that the surge of prolactin is responsible for the morphofunctional remodeling of the maternal endocrine pancreas during pregnancy, but the precise molecular mechanisms by which this phenotype is rapidly reversed after delivery are not completely understood. This study investigated whether glucocorticoid-regulated expression of Rasd1/Dexras, a small inhibitory G protein, is involved in this physiological plasticity. Immunofluorescent staining demonstrated that Rasd1 is localized within pancreatic β-cells. Rasd1 expression in insulin-secreting cells was increased by dexamethasone and decreased by prolactin. In vivo data confirmed that Rasd1 expression is decreased in islets from pregnant rats and increased in islets from lactating mothers. Knockdown of Rasd1 abolished the inhibitory effects of dexamethasone on insulin secretion and the protein kinase A, protein kinase C, and ERK1/2 pathways. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments revealed that glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 5b (STAT5b) cooperatively mediate glucocorticoid-induced Rasd1 expression in islets. Prolactin inhibited the stimulatory effect of GR/STAT5b complex on Rasd1 transcription. Overall, our data indicate that the stimulation of Rasd1 expression by glucocorticoid at the end of pregnancy reverses the increased insulin secretion that occurs during pregnancy. Prolactin negatively regulates this pathway by inhibiting GR/STAT5b transcriptional activity on the Rasd1 gene.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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