08 August 2002
Intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection of prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP) is known to increase plasma adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and cause c-fos expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN). We hypothesize that this is the site at which PrRP acts to increase plasma ACTH. We have used ICV injection and direct intranuclear injection of PrRP into the PVN to investigate the sites important in the stimulation of ACTH release in vivo. To investigate the mechanism of action by which PrRP increases ACTH, we have used primary culture of pituitary cells and measured neuropeptide release from in vitro hypothalamic incubations. ICV administration of PrRP increased plasma ACTH 10 min post-injection (PrRP 5 nmol 81.0 ± 23.5 pg/ml vs. saline 16.8 ± 14.1 pg/ml, p < 0.05). Intra-PVN injection of PrRP increased ACTH 5 min post-injection (PrRP 1 nmol 22.9 ± 5.0 pg/ml vs. saline 10.3 ± 1.4 pg/ml, p < 0.05). This effect continued until 40 min post-injection (PrRP 1 nmol 9.9 ± 1.5 pg/ml vs. saline 6.2 ± 0.5 pg/ml, p < 0.05). In vitro PrRP (1–100 nmol/l) did not effect basal or corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)-stimulated ACTH release from dispersed anterior pituitary cells. PrRP increased hypothalamic release of CRH (PrRP 100 nmol/l 1.4 ± 0.2 nmol/explant vs. the basal 1.1 ± 0.2 nmol/explant, p < 0.05) but not arginine vasopressin. PrRP also stimulated neuropeptide Y release (PrRP 100 nmol/l 56.5 ± 11.8 pmol/explant vs. basal 24.0 ± 1.9 pmol/explant, p < 0.01), a neuropeptide known to stimulate the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. Our data suggest that in vitro PrRP does not have a direct action on the corticotrope but increases plasma ACTH via the PVN and this effect involves the release of hypothalamic neuropeptides including CRH and neuropeptide Y.