Prolactin and the expression of suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 in the sheep adrenal gland before birth
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The fetal pituitary-adrenal axis plays a key role in the fetal response to intrauterine stress and in the timing of parturition. The fetal sheep adrenal gland is relatively refractory to stimulation in midgestation (90-120 days) before the prepartum activation, which occurs around 135 days gestation (term = 147 ᠳ days). The mechanisms underlying the switch from adrenal quiescence to activation are unclear. Therefore, we have investigated the expression of suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 (SOCS-3), a putative inhibitor of tissue growth in the fetal sheep adrenal between 50 and 145 days gestation and in the adrenal of the growth-restricted fetal sheep in late gestation. SOCS-3 is activated by a range of cytokines, including prolactin (PRL), and we have, therefore, determined whether PRL administered in vivo or in vitro stimulates SOCS-3 mRNA expression in the fetal adrenal in late gestation. There was a decrease (P < 0.005) in SOCS-3 expression in the fetal adrenal between 54 and 133 days and between 141 and 144 days gestation. Infusion of the dopaminergic agonist, bromocriptine, which suppressed fetal PRL concentrations but did not decrease adrenal SOCS-3 mRNA expression. PRL administration, however, significantly increased adrenal SOCS-3 mRNA expression (P < 0.05). Similarly, there was an increase (P < 0.05) in SOCS-3 mRNA expression in adrenocortical cells in vitro after exposure to PRL (50 ng/ml). Placental and fetal growth restriction had no effect on SOCS-3 expression in the adrenal during late gestation. In summary, the decrease in the expression of the inhibitor SOCS-3 after 133 days gestation may be permissive for a subsequent increase in fetal adrenal growth before birth. We conclude that factors other than PRL act to maintain adrenal SOCS-3 mRNA expression before 133 days gestation but that acute elevations of PRL can act to upregulate adrenal SOCS-3 expression in the sheep fetus during late gestation.
American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
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Medical Physiology not elsewhere classified
Physiology not elsewhere classified