Modulation of galanin and neuromedin U-like immunoreactivity in rat corticotropes after alteration of endocrine status
Abstract The localization of galanin in rat lactotropes and human corticotropes is well established. Neuromedin U immunoreactivity is present in rat corticotropes but radioimmunoassay of thyroid-manipulated rat pituitaries has also linked it to the thyroid axis. We found galanin immunoreactivity in some rat corticotropes, so we have re-examined rat anterior pituitary galanin- and neuromedin U-like immunoreactivity by use of immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy in rats in the normal state and after estrogen administration or adrenalectomy. In normal rats galanin immunoreactivity was present in a few corticotropes and lactotropes, females showing more than males; neuromedin U-like immunoreactivity was present in some thyrotropes and most corticotropes, in both sexes. Where galanin, neuromedin U and ACTH immunoreactivities were colocalized in corticotropes they were present in the same granules. Estrogen administration caused an increase in number of galanin immunoreactive lactotropes, as previously shown. The proportion of neuromedin U-positive corticotropes was not affected. After adrenalectomy, only females showed a significant increase in the proportion of galanin-positive corticotropes. Neuromedin U immunoreactivity was significantly increased in both sexes, as previously shown. Thus, in rat, as in man, galanin can be present in corticotropes and its expression appears to be sexrelated. This finding, and the demonstration of thyrotrope neuromedin U (only examined in normal females), provide correlation with previous experiments. The influence of endocrine status on the expression of these novel peptides underlines the inherent plasticity of pituitary endocrine cells.
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