Effect of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) on growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) release and cell morphology in human pituitary adenoma cell cultures

I. Fazekas, E. Bácsy, I. Varga, F. Slowik, K. Bálint, E. Pásztor, S. Czirják, E. Gláz

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Six GH adenomas and three prolactinomas were investigated by light- and electron-microscopic morphological and immunocytochemical methods and the effect of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) on growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) secretion was tested in vitro. The tumour cells of the acromegalic patients revealed both GH and PRL immunoreactivity while prolactinomas showed only PRL activity. All the adenomas stained immunocytochemically also for VIP. By electron microscopy, the tumours included two densely and two sparsely granulated GH, two mixed GH/PRL, and three sparsely granulated PRL adenomas. The dissociated cells were explanted, and cultured in vitro. The cultures in micro test plates were treated with VIP at different concentrations between 10-5-10-12 M. GH and PRL contents in the culture media were measured by radioimmunoassay. GH release was significantly stimulated by VIP in a dose-dependent manner over the whole concentration range, while VIP was effective on the PRL release only at 10-6-10-7 M concentration. The cells of a mixed adenoma were grown in Petri dishes and used for ultrastructural and immunocytochemical studies. The cytoplasmic structure of the cells treated with VIP corresponded to that of active hormone-secreting cells with large ergastoplasmic fields and Golgi zones containing secretory granules. Massive exocytotic events were encountered mainly in the GH-type cells. GH and PRL double immunocytochemistry showed the predominance of GH cells, many of them containing low amounts of PRL as well. Cells predominantly containing PRL were spread among them, they also might contain GH as well. Some of the cells contained only a single immunoreactive hormone. The intensity of gold labelling of the secretory granules appeared higher in the VIP-treated cells than in the untreated control ones which showed a cytoplasmic structure characteristic of glandular cells with low secretory activity. As all the adenoma cells both contained and reacted to VIP, our results are in agreement with an autocrine or paracrine effect of this peptide. The fine structure of the cells in the cultures treated with VIP supply an additional argument to the assumption that VIP may serve as a growth factor for these cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-127
Number of pages9
JournalFolia Histochemica et Cytobiologica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Cell culture
  • Growth hormone
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Prolactic
  • Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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