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Endocrinology. 1998 Jul;139(7):3220-6.

Glucocorticoids increase vasopressin V1b receptor coupling to phospholipase C.

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Section on Endocrine, Physiology, Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Vasopressin (VP) stimulates pituitary ACTH secretion after binding to V1b VP receptors (V1b-R) coupled to phospholipase C (PLC). This effect of VP on ACTH secretion, unlike that of CRH, is resistant to glucocorticoid feedback. To determine whether changes in V1b-R expression or signaling mediate the refractoriness to glucocorticoids, the effects of glucocorticoids on pituitary VP binding, V1b-R messenger RNA (mRNA) and VP-stimulated inositol phosphate (IP) formation were studied in vivo and in vitro in the rat. Dexamethasone injection for 7 days decreased VP binding but increased V1b-R mRNA, indicating that mRNA levels do not reflect receptor number. In spite of the binding loss, VP-stimulated IP formation was enhanced in dexamethasone-treated rats, suggesting that glucocorticoids increase the coupling efficiency of the V1b receptor to phospholipase C. Pretreatment of pituitary cells in vitro with dexamethasone or corticosterone, also potentiated IP formation by low and high doses of VP, indicating that glucocorticoids act directly in the pituitary and not through changes in hypothalamic factors. The effect is mediated by glucocorticoid receptors because it was blocked by glucocorticoid but not mineralocorticoid antagonists. Dexamethasone potentiated the stimulation of IP by other PLC-dependent ligands (GnRH, TRH) but not that by the calcium ionophore, ionomycin, suggesting a site of action between the receptor and PLC. After treatment with dexamethasone, in vivo or in vitro, Western blot analysis revealed marked increases in the GTP binding protein, Galpha(q), which may account for the potentiating effect of glucocorticoid on ligand-stimulated IP. The data demonstrate that glucocorticoids increase coupling of the V1b-R with PLC thereby providing a mechanism by which VP facilitates corticotroph responsiveness in spite of elevated levels of plasma glucocorticoids during stress.

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