Complications arising from diabetes mellitus include hormonal dysfunctions such as impairment in the regulation of gonadatroph and corticotroph secretion. Preprotachykinin (PPT) mRNA encoding the peptide substance P (SP), has been localized in the anterior pituitary. The goal of this study was to determine if streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes affects the SP content or PPT mRNA level in the pituitary of male rats. We injected STZ (55 mg/kg) to 6-week-old rats which developed hyperglycemia (blood glucose > 400 mg/dl) by 6 weeks post-injection. SP-like immunoreactivity in the pituitary dropped 54%. In situ hybridization was performed using a PPT- specific oligonucleotide with signal intensity differences semi-quantified using an image analysis system. Normal pituitary had a regional distribution of PPT mRNA, with no detectable signal in the posterior or intermediate lobes, while the anterior lobe displayed a distinctive pattern of labeled cells arranged in clusters. In diabetic rats there was a 23% decrease in the PPT-mRNA hybridization signal compared to controls (P < 0.05). The changes observed in PPT gene expression and SP content may be additional factors participating in the hormonal complications seen in diabetes mellitus.
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