Hypothyroid pituitary cells in culture: An analysis of thyrotropin and prolactin responses to dopamine (DA) and DA receptor binding

S. M. Foord, J. R. Peters, C. Dieguez, B. Jasani, R. Hall, M. F. Scanlon

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Monolayer cultures were prepared from the anterior pituitary (AP) lobes of normal male rats and male rats made hypothyroid by treatment with aminotriazole. After 3 days in culture, the cells from hypothyroid animals showed significantly greater TSH and PRL secretory activity and significantly less GH secretory activity than did parallel euthyroid cultures. The responses of euthyroid and hypothyroid cultures to dopaminergic agonists and antagonists were examined. Bromocriptine, apomorphine, and dopamine (DA) inhibited euthyroid TSH secretion by approximately 30%, whereas each drug inhibited hypothyroid TSH secretion by approximately 60% (P <0.01 for each drug). In contrast, the three agonists were less effective in inhibiting PRL secretion from hypothyroid cells (P <0.05 for each drug). The rank order of potency [bromocriptine > (+)butaclamol > apomorphine > DA > (-)butaclamol] shown against secretion was the same for TSH and PRL in both euthyroid and hypothyroid cell cultures and is typical of a DA receptor-mediated process. The binding of [3H]dihydroergocryptine (DHE) to DA receptors on euthyroid and hypothyroid cells was examined under the same conditions in which the secretory responses were determined. One micromolar concentration of (+)butaclamol was used to define nonspecific binding. Specific binding was saturable and stereospecific in each case. The rank order of potency of dopaminergic agonists and antagonists in competing for [3H] DHE binding was the same as that demonstrated against the secretion of TSH and PRL. Each compound displaced significantly more [3H]DHE from hypothyroid cells than from euthyroid cells (P <0.05 for each drug). Construction of adsorption isotherms for [3H]DHE binding to DA receptors on euthyroid and hypothyroid cells and subsequent Scatchard analysis revealed a 3- to 4-fold increase in receptor number without a significant change in affinity. Immunohistochemistry on AP lobes before and after dispersion revealed an increase in thyrotrophs and thyroidectomy cells in hypothyroid rats relative to those in control animals. In euthyroid animals thyrotrophs were 10.1% of the total AP cell population, in hypothyroid animals they plus the thyroidectomy cells were 36.3% of the total AP cells. Therefore, the increased number of DA receptors per lobe could be accounted for by increased numbers of thyrotrophs. The mechanism of the altered sensitivity to DA induced by hypothyroidism in lactotrophs and thyrotrophs remains to be clarified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-415
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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