Rolipram (4-(3-cyclopentyloxy-4-methoxyphenyl)-2-pyrrolidone) represents a new class of specific low Km cAMP phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors. This compound enhances basal, hormone- and forskolin-elicited cAMP accumulation in prolactin (PRL) producing rat pituitary adenoma (GH4C1) cells in culture (ED50=5·10−8 M). This effect is due to a selective inhibition of the low Km cAMP PDE (type III), since neither basal nor hormone-stimulated adenylate cyclase (AC) nor the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent PDE were affected by rolipram. The drug enhanced vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)-stimulated PRL-secretion, while thyroliberin (TRH)- and 12-0-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-elicited PRL egress were slightly reduced indicating a cAMP-mediated reduction of protein kinase C (PK-C) mediated PRL release. Interestingly, inhibition of PRL secretion by somatostatin (SRIH) was completely suppressed suggesting cAMP-mediated inactivation of some GTP-binding protein(s) of the αi family (Gαi2 or Gk). Rolipram did not affect phosphoinositide metabolism (i.e. IP3 accumulation), neither acutely nor after long term administration. Rolipram, like the cAMP PDE inhibitor Ro 20–1724, did not influence AC and PDE I, but dose-dependently inhibited PDE III activity.

Long term incubation of GH4C1 cells with rolipram in the presence of noradrenaline (NA) exerted a marginal decrease of β-receptor number, AC activation and cAMP accumulation, while Ro 20–1724 brought about a marked down-regulation and desensitization of the AC complex.

In summary, rolipram selectively interacts with PDE III in rat pituitary adenoma cells in culture and does not result in β-adrenoceptor AC downregulation. These features are not shared by the other drugs tested.

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