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Peptides. 1986 May-Jun;7(3):413-8.

Fetal adrenal VIP: distribution and effect on medullary catecholamine secretion.


Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) was found in the adrenal gland of ovine fetuses at 130-135 days gestation and was shown to stimulate catecholamine secretion. VIP was demonstrated by immunocytochemistry using the indirect antibody-enzyme method. VIP-immunoreactive nerve fibers were observed in the capsule, zona glomerulosa and inner layer of the cortex as well as in the medulla; furthermore small clusters of VIP-containing cell bodies were found at the corticomedullary border. To study the direct effect of VIP on catecholamine release, fetal adrenal medulla was dispersed into single cells and incubated in vitro with VIP for 6 hours. Catecholamine release into the medium was measured at 1, 3 and 6 hours. At 6 hours of incubation, VIP stimulated total catecholamine release from fetal adrenomedullary cells in a dose-dependent manner at concentrations ranging from 10(-8) to 10(-4) M. The release of norepinephrine and epinephrine, but not dopamine, was significantly enhanced. The presence of VIP in the fetal adrenal cortex and medulla, and the ability of VIP to stimulate catecholamine release from fetal adrenomedullary cells in vitro suggest that VIP may be an important modulator of medullary catecholamine secretion during fetal life.

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