The etiology of pituitary adenomas remains largely unknown, with the exception of involvement of estrogens in the formation of prolactinomas. We have examined the molecular pathogenesis of prolactin-producing pituitary adenomas in transgenic female mice expressing the human choriongonadotropin (hCG) β-subunit. The LH/CG bioactivity is elevated in the mice, with consequent highly stimulated ovarian progesterone (P4) production, in the face of normal estrogen secretion. Curiously, despite normal estrogen levels, large prolactinomas developed in these mice, and we provide here several lines of evidence that the elevated P4 levels are involved in the growth of these estrogen-dependent tumors. The antiprogestin mifepristone inhibited tumor growth, and combined postgonadectomy estradiol/P4 treatment was more effective than estrogen alone in inducing tumor growth. Evidence for direct growth-promoting effect of P4 was obtained from cultures of primary mouse pituitary cells and rat somatomammotroph GH3 cells. The mouse tumors and cultured cells revealed stimulation of the cyclin D1/cyclin-dependent kinase 4/retinoblastoma protein/transcription factor E2F1 pathway in the growth response to P4. If extrapolated to humans, and given the importance of endogenous P4 and synthetic progestins in female reproductive functions and their pharmacotherapy, it is relevant to revisit the potential role of these hormones in the origin and growth of prolactinomas.
Petteri Ahtiainen, Victoria Sharp, Susana B Rulli, Adolfo Rivero-Müller, Veronika Mamaeva, Matias Röyttä, and Ilpo Huhtaniemi
Milagros Peña-Zanoni, Erika Yanil Faraoni, Alejandra Abeledo-Machado, Pablo Anibal Perez, Carla Agustina Marcial López, María Andrea Camilletti, Silvina Gutierrez, Susana B Rulli, and Graciela Diaz-Torga
Among pituitary adenomas, prolactinomas are the most frequently diagnosed (about 50%). Dopamine agonists are generally effective in the treatment of prolactinomas. However, a subset of about 25% of patients does not respond to these agents. The management of drug-resistant prolactinomas remains a challenge for endocrinologists and new inhibitory treatments are needed. Pituitary activins inhibit lactotroph function. Its expression and action were found reduced in animal models of lactotroph hyperplasia (female mice overexpressing the B subunit of the human chorionic gonadotrophin and female mice knockout for dopamine receptor type 2). In these models, an oophorectomy avoids prolactinoma development. Hormonal replacement with oestradiol and/or progesterone is not enough to reach the tumor size observed in transgenic females. We postulated that the loss of gonadal inhibins after an oophorectomy contributes to prevent hyperplasia development. Here, we demonstrated that an oophorectomy at 2 months age recovers the following in adulthood: (i) pituitary activin expression, (ii) activin receptor expression specifically in lactotroph population, (iii) activin biological activity in lactotrophs with a concomitant reduction of Pit-1 expression. To summarize, when an oophorectomy is performed, inhibins are lost and the inhibitory action of pituitary activins on lactotroph population is recovered, helping to prevent lactotroph hyperplasia development. These results emphasize the importance of the inhibitory action of activins on lactotroph function, positioning activins as a good therapeutic target for the treatment of resistant prolactinomas.
María Andrea Camilletti, Alejandra Abeledo-Machado, Pablo A Perez, Erika Y Faraoni, Fernanda De Fino, Susana B Rulli, Jimena Ferraris, Daniel Pisera, Silvina Gutierrez, Peter Thomas, and Graciela Díaz-Torga
Membrane progesterone receptors are known to mediate rapid nongenomic progesterone effects in different cell types. Recent evidence revealed that mPRα is highly expressed in the rat pituitary, being primarily localized in lactotrophs, acting as an intermediary of P4-inhibitory actions on prolactin secretion. The role of mPRs in prolactinoma development remains unclear. We hypothesize that mPR agonists represent a novel tool for hyperprolactinemia treatment. To this end, pituitary expression of mPRs was studied in three animal models of prolactinoma. Expression of mPRs and nuclear receptor was significantly decreased in tumoral pituitaries compared to normal ones. However, the relative proportion of mPRα and mPRβ was highly increased in prolactinomas. Interestingly, the selective mPR agonist (Org OD 02-0) significantly inhibited PRL release in both normal and tumoral pituitary explants, displaying a more pronounced effect in tumoral tissues. As P4 also regulates PRL secretion indirectly, by acting on dopaminergic neurons, we studied mPR involvement in this effect. We found that the hypothalamus has a high expression of mPRs. Interestingly, both P4 and OrgOD 02-0 increased dopamine release in hypothalamus explants. Moreover, in an in vivo treatment, that allows both, pituitary and hypothalamus actions, the mPR agonist strongly reduced the hyperprolactinemia in transgenic females carrying prolactinoma. Finally, we also found and interesting gender difference: males express higher levels of pituitary mPRα/β, a sex that does not develop prolactinoma in these mice models. Taken together, these findings suggest mPRs activation could represent a novel tool for hyperprolactinemic patients, especially those that present resistance to dopaminergic drugs.