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J Endocrinol. 1997 Feb;152(2):211-9.

Regulation of anterior pituitary galanin and vasoactive intestinal peptide by oestrogen and prolactin status.

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Department of Medicine, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London, UK.


The neuropeptides vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and galanin are synthesized in the anterior pituitary, galanin in the lactotroph and VIP probably in another cell type, and both stimulate prolactin secretion. Oestrogen regulates anterior pituitary VIP and galanin, galanin expression reflecting physiological variation in oestrogen status, whilst VIP is induced by pharmacological concentrations of oestrogen. Implanting anterior pituitaries under the renal capsule to induce hyperprolactinaemia we studied the regulation of anterior pituitary VIP and galanin synthesis and storage by prolactin and its interaction with oestrogen status. Five groups of animals were studied: control, hypophysectomized implanted, implanted, hyperoestrogenized (oestradiol-17 beta; 250 micrograms/day) and hyperoestrogenized implanted. Spontaneously cycling animals were followed through two cycles prior to implanting and were maintained for at least 1 week and then killed once they were in dioestrus. Circulating prolactin levels were significantly elevated in implanted animals but not in hypophysectomized implanted animals compared with controls. There was a more marked increase in prolactin levels in hyperoestrogenized animals and hyperoestrogenized implanted animals, with no significant difference between these two groups. Native anterior pituitary galanin and VIP content was suppressed in implanted animals, and markedly increased in hyperoestrogenized animals. Pituitary implantation only marginally reduced the effect of hyperoestrogenization on galanin content but abolished the effect of hyperoestrogenization on VIP content. Implant peptide content was suppressed to less than 10% of native anterior pituitary content. Galanin was not detected in implants from hypophysectomized-implanted animals but implant VIP content was unaffected by hypophysectomy. VIP content was increased in implants from hyperoestrogenized implanted animals but implant galanin content was unaffected by hyperoestrogenization. Peptide mRNA levels changed in parallel with peptide content except that the implant galanin mRNA levels were increased by hyperoestrogenization. Thus it appears that prolactin negatively regulates anterior pituitary galanin and VIP gene expression and content, probably due to a direct effect on the anterior pituitary and by altered secretion of hypothalamic factors. Oestrogen is a potent stimulus to expression of both peptide genes. Its positive effect on anterior pituitary peptide gene expression and content is greatly diminished by the effect of implant-induced hyperprolactinaemia, suggesting that circulating prolactin levels may be controlled by a negative feedback effect of prolactin on galanin and VIP. A similar effect of hyperoestrogenization is observed in the implants, except that galanin content remains at a low level, suggesting that the combination of hyperoestrogenization and the absence of dopamine may lead to uncontrolled release of high levels of galanin.

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