Receptor-mediated Ca2+ influx has been shown to exist in several cell types. Thyrotropin-releasing-hormone (TRH)-stimulated Ca2+ entry has also been postulated to exist in rat anterior pituitary cells, but direct evidence has been lacking. We have measured the fluorescence quenching of indo-1 caused by Mn2+ at a Ca(2+)-insensitive wavelength to investigate the actions of TRH on cation entry in dispersed perifused anterior pituitary cells. In indo-1-loaded cells perifused with Ca(2+)-free medium, Mn2+ caused fluorescence quenching in unstimulated cells; TRH caused further quenching. TRH-stimulated Mn2+ entry was transient, and levelled off within a few minutes in the presence of continuous TRH infusion. TRH-stimulated Mn2+ entry was dependent on the concentration of Mn2+ (50 microM-1 mM). TRH (1 microM) caused a larger effect than TRH (10 nM). La3+ and Ni2+ blocked the quenching stimulated by TRH. The rate of basal quenching was not blocked by dopamine, but TRH-stimulated Mn2+ entry was partially blocked by 1 microM-dopamine and almost completely abolished by 10 microM-dopamine. Thapsigargin (1-5 microM), a tumour promotor which depleted intracellular Ca2+ stores, had little effect on Mn2+. F- (20 mM), which activates G-proteins, also had little effect on Mn2+ entry. We conclude that TRH can transiently stimulate Ca2+ entry through a channel than can pass Mn2+ and be inhibited by dopamine. Depleting Ca2+ stores alone is not sufficient to stimulate Ca2+ entry, and so TRH must do so by other mechanisms.

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