Corticotrophs in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) are situated mainly in the rostral region of the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, which receives its blood supply primarily from the portal vessel. On the assumption that the proopiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides released into the pituitary circulation may influence the function of other pituitary cells situated downstream, the effects of three POMC-derived peptides, namely, N- terminal peptide of POMC (NPP), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and joining peptide (JP), on the secretion of growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) by bullfrog dispersed anterior pituitary cells were examined. NPP and ACTH, but not JP, stimulated the release of GH and PRL in a concentration- dependent manner. It was also found that ACTH1-17, but not α-melanocyte- stimulating hormone, was effective in enhancing GH and PRL release. A marked difference between the response to NPP and ACTH and the response to thyrotropin-releasing hormone employed as a reference secretagogue in terms of the time required for stimulating the release of GH and PRL was noted. Northern blot analysis of GH and PRL mRNA levels and radioimmunoassay for GH and PRL in the cultured cells revealed that ACTH increases the syntheses of both pituitary hormones as well. The possibility that NPP and ACTH act on neighboring cells to maintain their overall secretory function is discussed.
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