Nerve growth factor directs differentiation of the bipotential cell line GH-3 into the mammotroph phenotype

Cristina Missale, Flora Boroni, Sandra Sigala, Anna Zanellato, Roberto Dal Toso, Andrea Balsari, Pierfranco Spano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


GH-3 is an established cell line which, for the production of both PRL and GH, may be related to the bipotential somatomammotroph from which both somatotroph and mammotroph cells derive. In the present study we first report that GH-3 cells express both the gp140trk and the gp75 components of the nerve growth factor (NGF) receptor and that NGF dictates a nonneuronal type of differentiation of this cell line of ectodermal origin. After exposure to NGF, GH-3 cells markedly decreased their proliferation rate. This effect, which was maximal (50% inhibition) 3 days after beginning the treatment and was maintained during the following days of exposure, was paralleled by a change in the hormone production. The secretion of PRL was increased 6-fold, but that of GH was remarkably inhibited. Moreover, GH-3 cells expressed the mammotroph-specific D-2 receptor protein in response to NGF, as shown by binding with the D-2 receptor ligand N-(p-aminophenetyl)spiperone coupled to fluorescein. The present data thus show that NGF induces the differentiation of GH-3 cells into one of their physiological counterparts, the mammotroph cell, and together with the finding that NGF receptors are expressed in the anterior pituitary suggest a physiological role for the neurotrophic factor in pituitary ontogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-298
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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