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Abnormal transduction mechanisms in pituitary (...)

Horm Res. 1997 ;47(4-6):227-34
Abnormal transduction mechanisms in pituitary adenomas.
Barlier A, Pellegrini-Bouiller I, Caccavelli L, Gunz G, Morange-Ramos I, Jaquet P, Enjalbert A.

Pituitary adenomas are differentiated tumors expressing their appropriate mature hormone. Tumoral cells sometimes present with a defective physiological inhibitory or stimulatory control, resulting in paradoxical responses or nonresponsiveness to regulatory neurohormones. These abnormalities can be explained by defects at the intracellular transduction mechanism level. Knowledge of these defective pathways has made progress in the understanding of the pathogenesis of pituitary adenomas possible. The discovery of mutations of Gs alpha named gsp oncogenes in 40% of human somatotropinomas represents one of the most important advances in this field. Other molecular alterations were identified but are rare and sporadic and the pathogenesis of pituitary adenomas remains largely unknown. Abnormal transduction mechanisms may also result in a variable sensitivity of tumors to pharmacological therapy. The dopamine agonist, bromocriptine, is able to normalize blood PRL levels and to reduce tumor size in the majority of patients with prolactinoma, but is ineffective in 8-15% of them. Under physiological conditions, PRL secretion is under the tonic inhibitory control of dopamine which binds D2 receptors negatively coupled to adenylyl cyclase. Several defects in the dopaminergic transduction pathways participate in this bromocriptine resistance. The mean D2-binding site density is decreased to 50% as compared to responsive tumors. This loss of D2 receptors can account for a lower transcription level of its gene and is accompanied by modifications in the messenger alternative splicing ; the D2 short isoform receptor expression decreases preferentially. A reduction in Gi2 alpha protein expression is also observed and is correlated to that of the D2 receptor. Finally, the pituitary-specific transcription factor Pit-1 expression is affected. A highly significant correlation was seen between the D2 receptor mRNA and Pit-1 mRNA levels. These defects observed on many levels of the dopaminergic transduction cascade may be the first steps in the loss of the functional features of differentiated tumors toward more proliferative tumors.


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