Dopamine and somatostatin receptor agonists inhibit hormone secretion by normal pituitary cells and pituitary adenomas. Indeed, initially several dopaminergic drugs, and lately somatostatin analogs, have been developed for the treatment of pituitary adenomas. Recently, it has been demonstrated that subtypes of somatostatin and dopamine receptors may form homo- and hetero-dimers at the membrane level, as part of their normal trafficking and function. Interestingly, a specific ligand for a given receptor may influence the activity of an apparently unrelated receptor, and the association between the two different receptors could be induced by addition of either dopamine or somatostatin. The new properties of these families of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) offer a potential explanation for the apparent conflicting results observed both in vivo and in vitro in human cell systems treated with the presently available analogs. Moreover, this observation not only increases the possibilities of modulating the activities of these receptors, but also raises new questions on the role of associations of specific receptors in the control of cell functions. In fact, results from preclinical studies have shown that receptor activation may not only trigger different intracellular signaling pathways, but also induce a distinct response depending upon the specific cell type. Recently, a number of new interesting compounds (subtype selective analogs and antagonists, as well as bi-speciflc and hybrid somatostatin/dopamine compounds) have been developed. The effects of these new molecules have been explored in few animal and human cell lines and primary cultures from human tumors, revealing a heterogeneous, but broader, profile of activities. Further studies are certainly needed to fully elucidate the complex interplay between the GPCRs and consequent biological effects, to identify suitable therapies for controlling hormonal secretion of pituitary tumors. However, these recent observations form the basis for the application of new interesting strategies for the treatment of not only pituitary tumors but also other human malignancies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism