Addition of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) to membranes from two ACTH-secreting pituitary tumors strikingly increased in a dose-dependent fashion adenylate cyclase (AC) activity. Significant stimulation was already apparent at 10-9M CRF. Stimulation of AC activity by CRF in membranes from non-tumoral tissue adjacent to tumoral corticotrophs was considerably lower, and was lacking in membranes from a growth hormone secreting tumor. These data correlated well with in vivo pre-surgery and post-surgery ACTH reponsiveness to CRF of the tumor bearing patients. Basal AC activity was higher in pituitary adenomas than in non-tumoral adjacent tissue. It is concluded that 1) a CRF-sensitive AC exists in ACTH-secreting tumor cells and, 2) increased sensitivity to CRF, as evidenced by greater stimulation of AC activity, may be responsible for the increased ACTH output of tumoral corticotrophs.
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