Galanin regulates basal and oestrogen-stimulated lactotroph function

Abstract

OESTROGEN, an essential physiological regulator of reproductive function1, controls lactotroph proliferation and prolactin release2. The neuropeptide galanin co-localizes to the lactotroph3, but its physiological function is largely unknown. Pituitary galanin expression is extremely sensitive to the oestrogen status of the animal. A marked elevation occurs during pregnancy and lactation4, and exogenous 17β-oestradiol can cause a 4,000-fold increase in messenger RNA levels5. Here we report that galanin is secreted by a minority of lactotrophs and is essential for the regulation of basal and vasoactive-intestinal-polypeptide-stimulated prolactin release. Hyperoestrogenization increases the number of galanin-secreting cells and the resulting increase in basal prolactin release is completely abolished by treatment with galanin anti-serum. Galanin is a potent lactotroph growth factor and galanin-immunoneutralization completely inhibits the previously reported6–8 mitogenic effects of oestrogen on the lactotroph. These findings represent direct evidence for paracrine regulation of lactotroph function and demonstrate that the effect of oestrogen on lactotroph proliferation and prolactin release are mediated by locally secreted galanin.

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Wynick, D., Hammond, P., Akinsanya, K. et al. Galanin regulates basal and oestrogen-stimulated lactotroph function. Nature 364, 529–532 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1038/364529a0

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