Melanotrope Secretory Cycle is Regulated by Physiological Inputs via the Hypothalamus
Vázquez Martínez, Rafael
Castaño, Justo P.
Tonon, Marie Christine
Malagón, María M.
Melanotrope cell heterogeneity
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Previously, it has been shown that background color conditions regulate the overall activity of the frog intermediate lobe by varying the proportions of the two subtypes of melanotropes existing in the gland, the highly active or secretory melanotropes and hormone-storage melanotropes, depending on melanocyte-stimulating hormone ( -MSH) requirements. However, the factors and mechanisms underlying these background-induced changes are still unknown. In the present study, we investigated whether hypothalamic factors known to regulate melanotrope cell function can induce changes in vitro similar to those caused by background adaptation in vivo. We found that the inhibitors apomorphine (a dopamine receptor agonist) and NPY decreased the number of active melanotropes and increased simultaneously that of storage melanotropes. On the other hand, the stimulator TRH increased the number of active cells and concomitantly reduced that of storage cells. Inasmuch as none of these treatments modified the apoptotic and proliferation rates in melanotrope cells, it appears that these hypothalamic factors caused actual interconversions of cells from a subpopulation to its counterpart. When taken together, these findings suggest that the hypothalamus would control melanotrope activity not only through short-term regulation of hormone synthesis and release, but also through a long-term regulation of the secretory phenotype of these cells whereby the activity of the intermediate lobe would be adjusted to fulfill the hormonal requirements imposed by background conditions.