Does α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone from the pars intermedia regulate suckling-induced prolactin release? Supportive evidence from morphological and functional studies

J. Bryan Hill, Eric R. Lacy, György M. Nagy, T. Görcs, L. Stephen Frawley

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31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that substances derived from the hypophyseal intermediate lobe (IL) play a crucial role in the regulation of suckling-induced PRL secretion. The purpose of the present study was to explore this possibility further by determining whether the suckling stimulus acutely increases the secretory activity of the IL and whether αMSH, a major secretory product of the IL, plays a specific role in suckling-induced PRL release. Light microscopic morphometric analysis of serial pituitary sections obtained from lactating rats revealed that as little as 1 min of suckling caused a significant increase in the proportion of the IL that was in secretory configuration (11.8 ± 0.7% vs. 6.7 ± 0.5%; 1-min suckled vs. nonsuckled control; mean ± SE). Moreover, the fraction of the IL in secretory configuration continued to increase after 5 and 10 min of nursing (to 16.0 ± 0.8% at 5 min and 18.2 ± 0.7% at 10 min). In contrast, serum PRL was not significantly elevated above the control level after 1 min of suckling (18.1 ± 13.5 vs. 9.9 ± 6.5 ng/ml, 1-min suckled vs. control). In fact, a significant rise I in PRL levels (to 314.4 ± 19.4 ng/ml) could be detected only after 10 min of nursing. Thus, secretion by the IL in response to suckling preceded the release of adenohypophyseal PRL, suggesting that a secretory product(s) from the pars intermedia is involved in the modulation of nursing-induced PRL release. Having established a sequential temporal relationship between these two phenomena, we next investigated whether αMSH was the IL factor involved in the regulation of suckling-induced PRL secretion. To this end, lactating rats were injected either with antiserum to αMSH or preimmune serum and then allowed to nurse their pups. Serial blood samples were taken from the mothers 15, 30, 60, and 90 min after the litters were returned, and serum PRL was measured by RIA. We found that the suckling-induced rise in serum PRL was severely attenuated in animals that received anti-αMSH serum. This suppression was most evident at 15 min (70.1 ± 13.4 vs. 323.5 ± 127.0 ng/ml, antibody treated vs. preimmune serum control) and persisted throughout the entire 90-min test period. When taken together, our results suggest that suckling-induced PRL secretion is mediated at least in part by αMSH released from the hypophyseal IL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2991-2997
Number of pages7
JournalEndocrinology
Volume133
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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