Neuropeptides, Growth Factors, and Cytokines: A Cohort of Informational Molecules Whose Expression Is Up-Regulated by the Stress-Associated Slow Transmitter PACAP in Chromaffin Cells
TRH is a hypophysiotropic peptide that acts mainly via the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis, but TRH immunoreactivity is also detected in several peripheral tissues. PCR with two pairs of primers enabling amplification of three fragments of TRH complementary DNA (cDNA) was used to demonstrate local production of TRH. Products of the expected size were detected in the testis, adrenal gland, lymphoid organs, thymus, and spleen. The amplified cDNA fragments were cloned and sequenced to show that the TRH gene is expressed in the thymus, spleen, and adrenal gland. Competitive RT-PCR showed that the TRH messenger RNA content of the testis was about one third that of the hypothalamus, whereas the adrenal gland contained 2% and the thymus 6%. HPLC analysis of thymus and spleen extracts showed small amounts of TRH, with a particular processing pattern of pro-TRH in lymphoid organs. The expression of the TRH receptor gene in peripheral organs was investigated to determine whether TRH had an autocrine or a paracrine action. cDNA fragments that encompassed the coding region of the receptor were identified in the testis, adrenal gland and thymus. No signal was detected in the spleen. These findings indicate that TRH may have a biological activity in extrapituitary organs and may act locally in the testis, adrenal gland, and thymus.