Some rat melanotrophs express in vivo tyrosine hydroxylase mRNA. In this report we show, by Western-blotting, that cultures of adult rat melanotrophs, but not adenohypophyseal cells, express tyrosine hydroxylase. Immunocytochemical analyses confirmed the existence of a subpopulation of melanotrophs expressing tyrosine hydroxylase. Bromocryptine (2.5 x 10-7M), a D2 dopamine agonist, down-regulated melanotroph tyrosine hydroxylase expression in a time-dependent manner; initial effect was detected at 15 h and maximum at 3 days treatment (reduction to about 40% of control values). Down-regulation at 3 days was dose-dependent (ED50around 2 x 10-9M). This decrease was reversed by sulpiride, a D2 dopamine antagonist. The cell number was slightly increased by bromocryptine treatment. These data suggest tyrosine hydroxylase expression in melanotrophs being under tonic inhibitory control by dopamine innervation in vivo. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
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