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Link, H.; Dayanithi, G.; Föhr, K. J.; Gratzl, Manfred (1992): Oxytocin at physiological concentrations evokes adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) release from corticotrophs by increasing intracellular free calcium mobilized mainly from intracellular stores. Oxytocin displays synergistic or additive effects on ACTH-releasing factor or arginine vasopressin-induced ACTH secretion, respectively. In: Endocrinology, Vol. 130: pp. 2183-2191


The potency of oxytocin (OT) in evoking ACTH secretion by isolated, superfused rat adenohypophyseal corticotrophs and its enhancement by CRF and arginine vasopressin (AVP) were analyzed. Each secretagogue effectively released ACTH from adenohypophyseal cells when added separately in pulsatile fashion in physiological concentrations based on hypophyseal portal blood (OT, 10 nM; AVP, 0.5 nM; CRF, 0.1 nM). OT released ACTH at concentrations as low as 1 nM. Moreover, a dose- response relationship up to 10 microM was revealed. Combinations of a constant amount of CRF (0.1 nM) with increasing concentrations of OT exerted a synergistic effect on ACTH release. In contrast, OT given in various concentrations in combination with AVP (0.5 nM) produced an additive effect on ACTH release. To study the mechanism of action of OT on ACTH secretion, cytosolic free calcium levels in single pituitary cells exposed to OT or AVP were measured using the calcium-sensitive fluorescent indicator Fura-2. Corticotrophs among mixed adenohypophyseal cell types in the primary cultures were identified by immunocytochemistry. More than 500 cells were individually stimulated with OT or AVP. Basal cytosolic free calcium levels ranged between 80- 130 nM free calcium. The addition of 100 nM OT or 1 microM AVP increased the cytosolic free calcium concentration within 3 sec to values ranging from 500-800 nM. An increase in intracellular calcium ranging from 200-500 nM due to OT could still be observed after extracellular calcium depletion. Taken together, our data demonstrate that physiological concentrations of OT stimulate ACTH secretion, independent of the other ACTH secretagogues, by mobilizing calcium mainly from intracellular stores.