An endocannabinoid system is localized to the hypophysial pars tuberalis of Syrian hamsters and responds to photoperiodic changes

Shinobu Yasuo, Marco Koch, Helmut Schmidt, Simone Ziebell, Joerg Bojunga, Gerd Geisslinger, Horst Werner Korf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The hypophysial pars tuberalis (PT), an important interface between neuroendocrine brain centers (hypothalamus, pineal organ) and the pars distalis (PD) of the hypophysis, plays a central role in regulating seasonal reproduction and prolactin release. However, the signaling molecules that transmit photoperiodic information from the PT to the PD and control prolactin release (the so-called "tuberalins") have not yet been identified, despite an intense search for more than three decades. Here, we demonstrate an endocannabinoid system in the PT of the Syrian hamster, a photoperiodic species. By means of in situ hybrization, the PT was found to express N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine-specific phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), sn-1-selective diacylglycerol lipases (DAGLα and DAGLβ), and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), enzymes involved in endocannabinoid synthesis and degradation. The expression of NAPE-PLD, FAAH, and DAGLα was confirmed by immunohistochemistry. Expression and protein levels of DAGLs controlling the synthesis of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG), a major endocannabinoid, were upregulated in the PT of Syrian hamsters kept under long-day conditions. Consequently, 2-AG levels were increased in the PT of these hamsters. A primary target of 2-AG, the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1), was expressed in the PD. Double-immunolabeling revealed that most of the CB1-immunoreactive cells in the PD were folliculostellate cells that were also immunoreactive for S-100 protein. Thus, the PT comprises an endocannabinoid system, and 2-AG may act as a photoperiodic messenger from the PT to the PD for the regulation of hypophysial hormonal secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalCell and tissue research
Volume340
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

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