Inhibitory effect of prepro-thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (178-199) on adrenocorticotrophic hormone secretion by human corticotroph tumours

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Prepro-thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH) (178-199), a 22-amino acid cleavage product of the TRH prohormone, has been postulated to act as an adrenocorticotrophin hormone (ACTH)-release inhibitor. Indeed, although in vitro evidence indicates that this peptide may inhibit basal and stimulated ACTH secretion in rodent anterior pituitary primary cultures and cell lines, not all studies concur and no study has as yet evaluated the effect of this peptide in Cushing's disease. The present study aimed to test the effect of preproTRH(178-199) in human tumoural corticotrophs. Twenty-four human ACTH-secreting pituitary tumours (13 macroadenomas, 11 microadenomas) were collected during surgery and incubated with 10 or 100 n. m preproTRH(178-199). ACTH secretion was assessed after 4 and 24 h of incubation by immunometric assay and expressed relative to levels observed in control, unchallenged wells (= 100%). Parallel experiments were performed in rat anterior pituitary primary cultures. A clear inhibition of ACTH secretion at 4 and 24 h was observed in 12 specimens (for 10 n. m ppTRH: 70 ± 4% control at 4 h and 83 ± 5% control at 24 h; for 100 n. m ppTRH: 70 ± 4% control at 4 h and 85 ± 5% control at 24 h), whereas a mild and short-lasting stimulatory effect was observed in three tumours and no changes in ACTH secretion in the remaining nine tumoural specimens. The inhibitory effect of preproTRH(178-199) was more evident in macroadenomas and significantly correlated with sensitivity to dexamethasone inhibition. Significant inhibition of ACTH secretion by preproTRH(178-199) in rat pituitary cultures was observed after 24 h of incubation. The present study conducted in a large series of human corticotroph tumours shows that preproTRH(178-199) inhibits tumoural ACTH secretion in a sizable proportion of specimens, in close relation to the size of the tumour and its sensitivity to glucocorticoid negative feedback. This appears a promising avenue of research and further studies are warranted to explore the full scope of preproTRH(178-199) as a regulator of ACTH secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-300
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010



  • ACTH
  • Cushing's disease
  • Pituitary tumours
  • PreproTRH(178-199)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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