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T Florio and G Schettini


Somatostatin is a peptide widely distributed in both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral tissues. It is found as two bioactive peptides of 14 and 28 amino acids, the latter being an N-terminal-extended form (Reichlin 1983a).

The name somatostatin comes from its initial discovery as an inhibitor of growth hormone (GH) release from anterior pituitary cells (Brazeau et al. 1973). Since then, numerous other physiological activities of somatostatin have been discovered associated with differing peptide and receptor localization (Reichlin 1983a,b). Besides GH, somatostatin is also able to inhibit secretion of prolactin (PRL) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) (Reichlin 1983a). In the CNS, the highest somatostatin concentrations have been detected in the hypothalamus in the tuberoinfundibular neurons where, acting as a neurohormone, the peptide regulates the hypothalamic-hypophyseal axis (Schettini 1991). Somatostatin-containing neurons are also present in many other areas of the brain, such as the cerebral cortex,

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S Valenti, S Thellung, T Florio, M Giusti, G Schettini, and G Giordano

The site of inhibition, by melatonin, of GnRH-dependent testosterone secretion was investigated in adult rat Leydig cells cultured in vitro. The various effects downstream of the binding of GnRH to its own receptor were isolated and mimicked by specific drugs. Testosterone secretion was then evaluated after 3 h stimulation with GnRH, thapsigargin (1 microM), phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (100 nM), arachidonic acid (20 microM), and ionomycin (1 microM) in the presence or absence of melatonin (215 nM). The effect of melatonin on the GnRH-induced changes in cytoplasmic calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)) was also studied, using Fura-2 as fluorescent Ca(2+) indicator. Melatonin attenuated the increase in [Ca(2+)](i) and inhibited the testosterone secretion induced by GnRH, but not that induced by ionomycin. Both ionomycin and thapsigargin potentiated GnRH-induced testosterone secretion; however, ionomycin, but not thapsigargin, partially prevented the inhibitory effect of melatonin on cells stimulated with GnRH. The effect of melatonin was probably dependent on the binding of melatonin to its Gi-protein-coupled receptor, as the inhibitory effect on GnRH-induced secretion was supressed in cells pretreated with pertussis toxin in a concentration of 180 ng/ml for 20 h. Assay of 17-hydroxy-progesterone showed that, irrespective of the treatment, cells cultured with melatonin secreted greater amounts than controls. We conclude that melatonin reduces GnRH-induced testosterone secretion by 1) decreasing [Ca(2+)](i), through impairment of the GnRH-dependent release of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores and 2) blocking 17-20 desmolase enzymatic activity, an effect that occurs irrespective of changes in [Ca(2+)](i).

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G. Schettini, E. Landolfi, O. Meucci, T. Florio, M. Grimaldi, C. Ventra, and A. Marino


The effect of adenosine and its analogue ( − )-N6-R-phenylisopropyladenosine (PIA) on both anterior pituitary adenylate cyclase activity and prolactin secretion was examined in the rat. Adenosine inhibited basal adenylate cyclase activity in a dose-dependent manner and also reduced the stimulation of the enzyme by vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). Likewise, in primary cultures of anterior pituitary cells, adenosine decreased prolactin secretion in both basal and VIP-stimulated conditions. In perifusion experiments, adenosine also inhibited prolactin release in both basal and TRH-stimulated conditions. PIA produced a biphasic pattern of response of basal adenylate cyclase activity, being inhibitory at low and stimulatory at high concentrations. In VIP-stimulated conditions, low concentrations of PIA inhibited both adenylate cyclase activity and prolactin release from primary cultures of pituitary cells, while no additive stimulatory effect was seen at high concentrations. Similarly, low concentrations of PIA reduced both basal and TRH-stimulated prolactin release from perifused pituitaries, while increasing PIA concentrations restored prolactin release. These data show that adenosine affects basal and stimulated prolactin secretion from anterior pituitary cells. Adenosine receptors seem to be coupled to the adenylate cyclase system in the anterior pituitary gland, suggesting a possible relationship between the effect of adenosine on adenylate cyclase activity and prolactin secretion.

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C Ventra, O Meucci, M Grimaldi, A Scorziello, A Porcellini, and G Schettini


We used the PCR amplification technique in an attempt to characterize further the dopamine D2L receptor expressed in the prolactin-secreting pituitary MMQ cell clone, derived from the prolactinand ACTH-secreting Buffalo rat 7315a pituitary tumour. By semiquantitative PCR amplification we were unable to detect the mRNA encoding the D2S receptor isoform, which derives from the wellknown process of alternative splicing, producing two D2 receptor subtypes (D2L and D2S) in such tissues as the anterior pituitary and the corpus striatum. Although the pharmacology of the D2 receptor has been established in many studies on both native receptors and transfected receptor isoforms, because of the lack of tissues naturally expressing only one receptor isoform, MMQ cells represent the first example of cells uniquely or prevalently expressing only the D2L receptor, conceivably coupled to its native transduction mechanisms. These considerations prompted us to evaluate the pharmacology and the second messenger systems known to be modulated by dopamine. Scatchard analysis of [3H]spiperone binding re-suited in a linear plot, consistent with the existence of a single class of binding sites, with a K d of 0·055±0·002 nm and a Bmax of 27±3·5 fmol/mg protein. Competition experiments confirmed the GTP-dependence and the order of potency for agonist and antagonist ligands consistent with binding to a D2 receptor. The inhibitory effects of dopamine on adenylyl cyclase activity, inositol phosphate production and intracellular free calcium concentrations, the latter presumably via the opening of K+ channels, and prolactin secretion, as well as the reversal of the effect by the D2-selective antagonist (−)sulpiride and pretreatment with pertussis toxin, are consistent with the known biological actions of dopamine at D2 receptors. Based on our observations, the MMQ cell line can be considered a useful tool for investigating ligand-receptor interactions to develop new selective dopaminergic D2L ligands for the therapy of dopamine-related disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, Parkinson's disease and drug addiction.

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A Scorziello, E Landolfi, M Grimaldi, O Meucci, C Ventra, A Avallone, A Postiglione, and G Schettini


We studied the effect of adenosine on prolactin secretion by the anterior pituitary, and the transduction mechanisms whereby the purine exerts its action. Adenosine inhibited prolactin release in basal and in vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)- or TRH-stimulated conditions. Pertussis toxin pretreatment reduced the inhibition of VIP-stimulated prolactin secretion which was induced by adenosine, while it completely abolished the effect of the purine on TRH-evoked prolactin release. In membrane preparations of anterior pituitary cells, adenosine reduced the adenylate cyclase activity stimulated by VIP. Such an inhibition was not blocked by pertussis toxin pretreatment.

Furthermore, the purine reduced TRH-stimulated inositol phosphate production in cultured anterior pituitary cells, an effect that was reversed by pretreatment with pertussis toxin. In addition, the nucleoside did not significantly affect the TRH-induced rise in intracellular calcium.

In conclusion, our data show that adenosine inhibits prolactin secretion, acting on purinergic receptors coupled to the adenylate cyclase enzyme and phospholipase C. The effect of the nucleoside on adenylate cyclase seems to be achieved either by the involvement of an adenosine receptor coupled to the catalytic subunit of the enzyme via a pertussis toxin-sensitive G protein, or by the activation of a site directly coupled to the catalytic subunit of the adenylate cyclase (the P site). Its effect on phospholipase C seems to be mediated by a purinergic receptor coupled to the intracellular effector via a pertussis toxin-sensitive G protein.