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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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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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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).