Calcium signaling and secretory responses in endothelin-stimulated anterior pituitary cells

Stojilković, S.S.; Iida, T.; Merelli, F.; Catt, K.J.

Molecular Pharmacology 39(6): 762-770


ISSN/ISBN: 0026-895X
PMID: 1646950
Accession: 039442098

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Endothelin (ET) receptors are present in pituitary cells and stimulate hormone release through the phosphoinositide/Ca2+ signaling system. In pituitary cell suspensions, ET caused [Ca2+]i elevations of much higher amplitudes than those induced by other vasoactive hormones, including angiotensin II, vasopressin, and noradrenalin. The action of ET was coupled to rapid and transient activation of exocytosis in gonadotrophs, thyrotrophs, somatotrophs, and lactotrophs. In contrast, angiotensin II did not stimulate luteinizing hormone release, and luteinizing hormone responses to vasopressin and noradrenalin were very small. Single gonadotrophs exhibited three types of [Ca2+]i responses to increasing doses of ET, (a) subthreshold responses, with amplitude modulation; (b) threshold-oscillatory responses, with frequency modulation; and (c) threshold-biphasic responses, as the summation of single Ca2+ spikes. The same [Ca2+]i patterns were also seen in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-stimulated cells. In the presence of [Ca2+]e, the amplitudes of the Ca2+ spikes progressively decreased during continuous stimulation with ET or GnRH, reaching the nonoscillatory plateau level after 200-400 sec of stimulation. In cells stimulated with GnRH, subsequent exposure to ET, GnRH, or ionomycin during the plateau phase did not elicit further increases in [Ca2+]i, whereas cells stimulated with ET responded partially to all three agents. In addition, cells exposed to ET or GnRH for 30 min, followed by a 30-min recovery period, were able to mount a full [Ca2+]i response to GnRH, but not to ET-1. Similarly, both peptides elicited rapid increases in LH release, with comparable potencies, but the response to ET decreased much more rapidly during sustained stimulation and gonadotrophs became refractory to further ET stimulation. This is in part attributable to rapid endocytosis of ET receptors during continuous agonist stimulation. These data indicate that ET exerts potent but transient secretory actions in several pituitary cell types and is a potential regulator of gonadotropin release. The initial receptor-coupling events in both ET- and GnRH-stimulated cells are similar, but the differences observed during continuous or repetitive stimulation indicate that the ET receptor pathway undergoes rapid desensitization that is critical in determining the distinct cellular responses to the two peptides.