Influx of Ca2+ via Ca2+ channels is the major step triggering exocytosis of pituitary somatotropes to release growth hormone (GH). Voltage-gated Ca2+ and K+ channels, the primary determinants of the influx of Ca2+, are regulated by GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) through G-protein-coupled intracellular signalling systems. Using whole-cell patch-clamp techniques, the changes of the Ca2+ and K+ currents in primary cultured ovine and human somatotropes were recorded. Growth hormone-releasing hormone (10 nmol/L) increased both L- and T-type voltage-gated Ca2+ currents. Inhibition of the cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) pathway by either Rp-cAMP or H89 blocked this increase in both L- and T-type Ca2+ currents. Growth hormone-releasing hormone also decreased voltage-gated transient (I(A)) and delayed rectified (I(K)) K+ currents. Protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitors, such as calphostin C, chelerythrine or downregulation of PKC, blocked the effect of GHRH on K+ currents, whereas an acute activation of PKC by phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (1 μmol/L) mimicked the effect of GHRH. Intracellular dialysis of a specific PKC inhibitor (PKC19-36) also prevented the reduction in K+ currents by GHRH. It is therefore concluded that GHRH increases voltage-gated Ca2+ currents via cAMP/PKA, but decreases voltage-gated K+ currents via the PKC signalling system. The GHRH-induced alteration of Ca2+ and K+ currents augments the influx of Ca2+, leading to an increase in [Ca2-]i and the GH secretion.
- Growth hormone-releasing hormone
- Ion channel
- Protein kinase A
- Protein kinase C