Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) mRNA and peptides are abundant in the adenohypophysis, but their role in pituitary function has not yet been elucidated. CART peptides were recently shown to colocalise with luteinising hormone (LH) or prolactin in rat anterior pituitary, and contradictory results concerning the peptide effects on pituitary hormonal secretions were obtained in vitro from pituitary cell cultures. Thus, we reinvestigated the expression of CART mRNA within the pituitary. Immunohistochemistry for pituitary hormones was performed on sections from adult male Wistar rats followed by in situ hybridisation using CART mRNA antisense 35S-labelled probes. The most represented CART-expressing cells were lactotrophs (42 ± 1% of CART cells) and gonadotrophs (32 ± 3%), followed by thyrotrophs (10 ± 2%), corticotrophs (7 ± 2%) and somatotrophs (6 ±1%). In the pars tuberalis, CART mRNA was easily detectable in gonadotrophs and lactotrophs and, to a lesser extent, in corticotrophs and thyrotrophs. CART peptide was quickly and potently released from perifused pituitary by depolarisation (K+ 30 m M for 15 min; 465±37% over basal release, n=5). Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone and thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (0.1μM) were also active to a lesser extent (138±11% n=7, respectively). CART (0.1μM) did not modify basal LH or prolactin release but selectively inhibited K+-induced LH release without affecting K+-induced prolactin secretion. Pituitary CART mRNA and content were sex dependent and varied during the oestrous cycle, being lower in dioestrous 2. Pituitary CART content also varied widely amongst rat strains being five to six-fold higher in Wistar and Fischer rats compared to Brown Norway and Lou C rats. Ageing differentially affected pituitary CART mRNA and content, resulting in a marked decrease in Lou C and an increase in Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats. Taken together, these results suggest that pituitary CART expression is dependent of the sex steroid environment and may be physiologically involved in LH secretion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience