Background: Cytokines mediate the metabolic and physiologic responses to injury and infection. Anterior pituitary cells express receptors for tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 1 (IL-1), which can signal these cells to release corticotropin, growth hormone, and cytokines such as IL-1 and macrophage migration inhibitory factor. This interaction provides an important link between the immune system and the neuroendocrine system. We reasoned that pituicytes activated with TNF or IL-1 might release previously unrecognized factors that could participate in this signaling from the neuroendocrine to the immune system.
Methods: Proteins released from rat pituicytes (GH3) after stimulation with proinflammatory cytokines were identified by N-terminal amino acid sequencing. Polyclonal antibodies against a peptide corresponding to the N-terminal amino acid sequence were generated and used to determine the kinetics of protein release.
Results: Cytokine stimulation induced the release of a 30-kd protein from rat pituicytes. After the protein was isolated and the N-terminal amino acid sequence determined, a protein database analysis revealed that it is high mobility group-1 (HMG-1) protein. TNF and IL-1 induced the release of HMG-1 from pituicytes in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Interferon gamma alone did not induce the release of HMG-1, but it enhanced TNF-induced HMG-1 release.
Conclusion: Stimulation of pituicytes by TNF or IL-1 induces the release of HMG-1, which may participate in the regulation of neuroendocrine and immune responses to infection or injury.