The posterior pituitary regulates prolactin, but not adrenocorticotropin or gonadotropin, secretion in the sheep

Gregory B. Thomas, James T. Cummins, Benedict J. Canny, Susan E. Rundle, Nicola Griffin, Sivi Katsahambas, Iain J. Clarke

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The aim of this study was to determine the role of the posterior pituitary gland in the control of PRL, LH, FSH, and ACTH secretion in sheep. Posterior pituitary function was removed in ovariectomized ewes by electrical lesioning of the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial tract immediately posterior to the stalk-median eminence (LESION); controls were subjected to sham surgery (SHAM). LESION caused a 2-fold increase in plasma PRL concentrations on days 1−3 after surgery. Thereafter,concentrations gradually declined untilthey were similar to those in SHAM ewes. There was no change in plasma concentrations of LH, FSH, or ACTH after LESION. Plasma PRL responses to insulin in SHAM ewes were completely abolished, and the plasma PRL response to chlorpromazine was reduced to almost halfby LESION. In contrast, audiovisual stress (barking dog) and serotonin challenge caused an immediate release of PRL in both LESION and SHAM ewes, with the amplitude of the responses indistinguishable between groups. LESION had no effect on the plasma ACTH responses to audiovisual stress,insulin, or serotonin. We conclude that the posterior pituitary gland is involved in the regulation of PRL under some circumstances,but not of LH, FSH, or ACTH secretion in the sheep. Accordingly, changes in PRL release after hypothalamopituitary disconnection in this species may reflect a loss of posterior lobe function rather than the removal of hypothalamic inputs. In addition, the PRL response to insulin is dependent on a functional posterior pituitary gland, whereas responses to audiovisual stress and serotonin appear to rely on inputs to the pituitary gland via the median eminence and the long hypothalamo-hypophysial portal blood vessels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2204-2211
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes

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