Prolactin releasing peptide (PrRP) was originally isolated as an endogenous hypothalamic ligand for the hGR3 orphan receptor. It has been shown to release prolactin from dispersed pituitaries harvested from lactating female rats and only at very high doses in cycling females. PrRP is reported to have no effect on prolactin production from dispersed pituitary cells harvested from males. The CNS distribution of this peptide suggested a role for PrRP in the control of the hypothalamo-pituitary axis. The aim of this study was to examine the actions of PrRP (1-31) on circulating pituitary hormones following intracerebroventricular (ICV) injection in male rats and to investigate the mechanism of PrRP's effect by measurement of hypothalamic releasing factors in vitro. In our experiments, PrRP (1-31) did not release LH, FSH, TSH, growth hormone or prolactin directly from dispersed male pituitary cells in vitro. We have shown for the first time that following ICV injection of PrRP (1-31) 5 nmol there was a highly significant simulation of plasma LH that began at 10 minutes and was maintained over the course of the experiment (at 60 minutes PrRP 5 nmol 2.2±0.2 vs. saline 0.5±0.1 ng/ml, p<0.001). Plasma FSH increased at 20 minutes following ICV injection (PrRP 5nmol 10.8±2.0 ng/ml vs. saline 5.1±0.5, p<0.01). Total plasma testosterone increased at 60 minutes post injection (PrRP 5nmol 9.2±1.6 vs. saline 3.5±0.6 nmol/l, p<0.01). There was no significant alteration in plasma prolactin levels. PrRP significantly increased the release of LHRH from hypothalamic explants in vitro (PrRP 100nmol/l 180.5±34.5% of the basal secretion, p<0.05). PrRP (100nmol/1) also increased the following hypothalamic peptides involved in the control of pituitary hormone release, vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) 188.1±24.6% and galanin 153.8±13.0% (both p<0.001 vs. basal secretion) but had no effect on orexin A secretion. These results suggest a role for PrRP in the control of gonadotrophin secretion acting via a hypothalamic mechanism involving the release of LHRH.
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