Regulation of pituitary corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) receptor mRNA and CRH binding during adrenalectomy: Role of glucocorticoids and hypothalamic factors

Cristina Rabadan-Diehl, Gabor Makara, Alexander Kiss, Dora Zelena, Greti Aguilera

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The role of glucocorticoids and hypothalamic factors on CRH receptor expression in the pituitary were studied by analysis of the effects of adrenalectomy and suppression of CRH and VP secretion by hypothalamic lesions in the rat. Consistent with previous in situ hybridization studies. Northern blots showed that pituitary CRH receptor mRNA decreased only transiently after adrenalectomy, falling to 51% of the control levels after 18 h, and returning to control values after 6 days (112%). The early decrease was prevented by dexamethasone injection, 100 μg, s.c. The role of increased levels of CRH and VP in the pituitary portal circulation on the transient decrease in CRH receptor mRNA levels after adrenalectomy were studied by in situ hybridization in rats subjected to PVN lesions or median eminence deafferentation by hypothalamic anterolateral cuts (ALC). PVN lesion (12 days) or ALC (8 days) resulted in undetectable irCRH and VP in the external zone of the median eminence and had no effect on basal levels of pituitary POMC mRNA, CRH binding and CRH receptor mRNA. In sham lesioned rats, adrenalectomy for 18 h or 4 days caused the expected increases in pituitary POMC hnRNA and mRNA, and decreases in CRH binding. CRH-R mRNA levels decreased by about 50% after 18 h adrenalectomy but returned to basal by 4 days. PVN lesion or ALC fully prevented the fall in CRH binding after 18 h or 4 days adrenalectomy and the increase in POMC mRNA after 4 days adrenalectomy, whereas only attenuated the decrease in CRH receptor mRNA and increase in POMC mRNA levels after 18 h adrenalectomy. Administration of a CRH antagonist did not affect CRH receptor mRNA and POMC hnRNA and mRNA indicating that residual CRH in the median eminence after hypothalamic surgery is not responsible for the effect of adrenalectomy. These studies confirm previous in situ hybridization studies showing that adrenalectomy causes transient decreases in pituitary CRH receptor mRNA levels. The data indicate that while increases in hypothalamic CRH secretion following glucocorticoid withdrawal mediate pituitary CRH receptor binding loss and the increase in POMC expression after long-term adrenalectomy, CRH only partially accounts for the early changes in CRH receptor mRNA and POMC mRNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-697
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 1997



  • Corticotropin releasing hormone receptor
  • Glucocorticoids
  • HPA axis
  • PVN lesions
  • Proopiomelanocortin (POMC)
  • Vassopressin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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