Modulation of VEGF/Flk-1 receptor expression in the rat pituitary GH3 cell line by growth factors.

PMID 16944045


Both vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor Flk-1 are expressed in normal pituitary cells and in the prolactin- and growth hormone-producing GH3 cell line of the rat, thus suggesting autocrine/paracrine function. Regulation of the Flk-1 receptor system in pituitary cells is poorly understood, but evidence suggests that up-regulated growth factors play a role in its expression and activation. To study the role of growth factors in this process, we examined changes in VEGF and Flk-1 expression in GH3 cells following varied exposure to betaFGF, EGF, and TGFbeta1. Immunofluorescence labelling and laser scanning cytometry were used to measure changes in VEGF and Flk-1 expression. Results showed that betaFGF, EGF and TGFbeta up-regulated the VEGF/FLK-1 receptor system. Distinct patterns of activation were detected. At 2 hours, EGF and TGFbeta caused no significant changes in VEGF and Flk-1 expression; however, betaFGF up-regulated VEGF expression in 99% of cells but only induced modest changes in Flk-1 overexpression. A similar percentage of cells overexpressed VEGF after 24-hour incubation with betaFGF, but more prominent Flk-1 overexpression was detected. At 24 hours, EGF and TGFbeta1 induced a significant increase in both VEGF and Flk-1 expression. In summary, our findings show that VEGF/Flk-1 expression in pituitary cells may be altered by different growth factors. This may affect angiogenesis and the progression of pituitary tumors.

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