The involvement of cyclic AMP in mediating regulatory peptide-controlled prolactin release from GH3 pituitary tumour cells was investigated. Cholera toxin and forskolin elicited concentration-dependent increases in both GH3 cell cyclic AMP content and prolactin release. The maximum rise in prolactin release with these agents was 2-fold over basal. 8-Bromo-cyclic AMP produced a similar stimulation of prolactin release. The phosphodiesterase inhibitor isobutylmethylxanthine also produced an increase in prolactin release and GH3 cell cyclic AMP content. However, the magnitude of the stimulated prolactin release exceeded that obtained with any other agent. Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (thyroliberin) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide produced a concentration-dependent rise in both cell cyclic AMP content and prolactin release. However, only vasoactive intestinal polypeptide elicited an increase in cell cyclic AMP content at concentrations relevant to the stimulation of prolactin release. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide and thyrotropin-releasing hormone, when used in combination, were additive with respect to prolactin release. Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide and forskolin, at concentrations that were maximal upon prolactin release, were, when used in combination, synergistic upon GH3 cell cyclic AMP content but were not additive upon prolactin release. In conclusion the evidence supports a role for cyclic AMP in the mediation of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide- but not thyrotropin-releasing hormone-stimulated prolactin release from GH3 cells. A quantitative analysis indicates that a 50-100% rise in cyclic AMP suffices to stimulate cyclic AMP-dependent prolactin release fully.

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