Time-dependent effects of starvation on pituitary, hypothalamic and serum prolactin levels in rats: Comparison to the galanin expression pattern

Predrag Vujović, Iva Lakić, Nebojša Jasnić, Tanja Jevđović, Siniša F. Ðurašević, Esma R. Isenović, Jelena Ðorđević


Given that both prolactin and galanin take part in the regulation of energy homeostasis and that galanin is localized within lactotrophs, this study was aimed at comparing the pituitary expression patterns of prolactin and galanin during different phases of metabolic response to starvation in adult Wistar male rats. Food was removed at the onset of the dark phase (6:00 pm) and the animals were deprived for 6, 12, 24 and 48 h. Each of the starved groups (n=6) was killed simultaneously with a group of ad libitum-fed rats (n=6), and the intrapituitary levels of prolactin and galanin were examined. Galanin expression in the hypothalamus and the circulating levels of prolactin were also assessed. Starvation induced a rise in the intrapituitary prolactin level (p<0.001), whereas the opposite trend was detected in the serum (p<0.05). The galanin pituitary level was initially increased (6, 12 h) (p<0.05), but as starvation progressed, it first reached (at 24 h) and ultimately fell below the level recorded in the ad libitum rats (at 48 h) (p<0.05). Both prolactin and galanin were elevated in the hypothalamus after 24- and 48-h starvation. The results show that the starvation-induced increase in the pituitary prolactin expression did not lead to the rise in prolactin circulating levels, but rather resulted in the elevation of the prolactin hypothalamic content. Furthermore, the results suggest that under the circumstances of disturbed energy homeostasis, galanin might be responsible for the augmented prolactin production, initially at the pituitary and subsequently at the hypothalamic level.

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