Effect of 9-cis retinoic acid on dopamine D2 receptor expression in pituitary adenoma cells

Sara Bondioni, Anita R. Angioni, Sabrina Corbetta, Marco Locatelli, Stefano Ferrero, Emanuele Ferrante, Giovanna Mantovani, Luca Olgiati, Paolo Beck-Peccoz, Anna Spada, Andrea G. Lania

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dopamine receptor subtype 2 (D2R) promoter contains a functional retinoic acid response element involved in the control of D2R expression. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of 9-cis retinoic acid (9-cis RA) on D2R protein expression in human pituitary adenomas and GH3 cell line. Treatment with 9-cis RA (100 nM for 48 hrs) caused a 109 ± 32% increase of basal D2R levels in five of eight growth hormone (GH)-secreting adenomas (GH-omas), a 129 ± 28% increase in 7 of 11 nonfunctioning adenomas, and no effect in two resistant prolactinomas by Western blotting. The lack of D2R induction in some tumors was not associated with a different pattern of retinoid x receptor (RXR) and retinoic acid receptor (RAR) isoform expression that was similar in all tumors by immunohistochemistry. While the induction of D2R did not affect the slight but significant inhibitory effect exerted by dopamine (10 nM) on in vitro GH release by GH-oma cultured cells, in pituitary GH3 cell lines cis-9 RA enhanced the dopamine-induced inhibition of in vitro GH release (% inhibition: 16 ± 2 versus 26 ± 5, P <0.05), cell proliferation (25 ± 2% versus 44 ± 5%, P ± 0.05) and cell viability (16 ± 0.8% versus 29 ± 1%, P <0.05), likely by activating caspase-3 (28 6 3% versus basal, P <0.05). In conclusion, this study provides novel evidence for a permissive role of retinoids on the expression of D2R in a good proportion of pituitary tumors and on the generation of proapoptotic signals in GH3 cell line.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-446
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


  • Apoptosis
  • D2 receptor
  • GH3 cell
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Retinoic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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