OBJECTIVE: The GH-releasing peptide GHRP-6, has been found to interact with specific receptors in somatotrophs, causing cytosolic Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) rise and GH release. Moreover, this peptide has been demonstrated to stimulate the secretion of pituitary hormones other than GH, i.e. ACTH and prolactin, this effect being generally attributed to a central action. In this study we evaluated whether the pituitary action of this peptide is restricted to cell type of somatotroph lineage. METHODS: The effect opf GHRP-6 on [Ca2+]i was tested in cell preparations obtained from a series of human pituitary adenomas (9 GH-secreting adenomas, 7 nonfunctioning adenomas, 3 ACTH-secreting adenomas, 2 TSH-secreting adenomas and 1 prolactinoma) loaded with the Ca2+ indicator fura-2. RESULTS: GHRP-6, at concentrations higher than 1 nmol/l, significantly increased [Ca2+]i in all tumours, with the exception of the 3 ACTH-secreting adenomas in which the peptide was ineffective at any concentration tested (from 1 nmol/l to 1 micromol/l). By contrast, in all ACTH-secreting adenomas, both corticotrophin-releasing hormone and pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide caused a marked [Ca2+]i increase. In tumours responsive to GHRP-6, the peptide caused a typical biphasic [Ca2+]i rise due to Ca2+ mobilization from the intracellular stores and Ca2+ influx through voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that almost all tumoral pituitary cell types are targets of GHRP-6 action, the only exception being corticotrophs.
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