Iranian Journal of Science & Technology, Transaction A, Vol. 31, No. A3
Printed in The Islamic Republic of Iran, 2007
© Shiraz University
THE EFFECT OF β β-GLUCAN ON PROLACTIN
SECRETION IN GH3/B6 CELLS*
H. SEPEHRI**, L. DELPHI AND Y. RASSOULI
Animal Physiology Department, School of Biology, College
of Science, University of Tehran, I. R. of Iran
Abstract – It is well known that several plant extracts have a lactogenic effect. This response may be induced
through the stimulation of prolactin release from lactotrope cells. A partial purification of the active
compound indicated that it is rich in pectin and β-glucan. These materials stimulate secretion of prolactin
from hypophyseal fragments. In the present study, the effect of β-Glucan on the secretion of prolactin from
GH3/B6 pituitary tumor cells has been investigated. These cells are good tools for studying the direct effect of
β-glucan on prolactin secretion. The different concentrations of β-glucan (50, 100 and 200 µg/ml) increased
secretion of prolactin within 24 hours of incubation in GH3/B6 media. Moreover, the secretion of prolactin
was significantly elicited at 100 and 200 µg/ml of β-glucan incubation after 48 hours. These results suggest
that β-glucan can affect the synthesis and/or release of prolactin, a hormone that plays many important
physiological roles from GH3/B6 pituitary tumor cells.
Keywords – Lactotropes, prolactin, GH3/B6 cells, β-glucan
Rat pituitary cells consist of somatotropes (GH+/Prl−), lactotropes (GH−/Prl+), and lactosomatotropes
(GH+/Prl+). The lactotropes secrete prolactin, primarily. The rat pituitary cell line GH3 and its subclones
secrete significant amounts of prolactin as well as low and variable amounts of growth hormone (GH) .
These cells have been widely used to study the mode of action of several hormones that regulate prolactin
secretion in vivo. These include neuropeptides such as thyroliberin, vasoactive intestinal peptide, thyroid
hormones, and estrogens . It is important to note that GH3/B6 cells secrete prolactin and growth
hormone (GH) in a ratio of 5-1 .
Plant extracts are widely used to stimulate the various physiological functions. Some plant extracts
stimulate secretion of prolactin, including beer which increases milk secretion. Originally, it has been
suggested that these effects were due to the alcohol part of beer. However, it has been reported that the
plant components of beer were responsible for this effect . The extracts from hops were not active,
whereas malt and barley from beer strongly stimulated prolactin secretion. Considering the lactogenic
agents were water-soluble and resistant to heat or proteases, it seems that they are polysaccharides.
Chemical analysis of these extracts revealed that the major parts of the polysaccharides were pectin and β-
glucan [5, 6]. Further studies confirmed that the strong capacity of these agents elicits prolactin secretion
in experimental animals [7, 8] and the culture of pituitary fragments .
β-glucan is a heterogeneous group of glucose polymers, consisting of a backbone of β1→3 linked β-
D-glucopyranosyl units with β1→6 link side chains of varying distribution and length. These substances
∗Received by the editor May 6, 2006 and in final revised form October 27, 2007
The effect of β β-glucan on…
Summer 2007 Iranian Journal of Science & Technology, Trans. A, Volume 31, Number A3
4. Carlson, H. E., Wasser, H. L. & Reidelberger, R. D. (1985). Beer induces prolactin secretion: a clinical and
laboratory study of the role of salsolinol. J Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 60, 677-701.
5. Sawadogo, L. & Houdebine, L. M. (1988). Identification of the lactogenic compound present in beer. Annales de
biologie clinique, 46, 126-134.
6. Sawadogo, L., Houdebine, L. M., Thibault, J. F., Rouau, X. & Ollivier-Bousquet, M. (1988). Effects of pectic
substance on prolactin and growth hormone secretion in the ewe and on the induction of casein synthesis in rat.
Reproduction Nutrition Development, 28 (2A), 293-301.
7. Sawadogo, L., Sepehri, H. & Houdebine, L. M. (1989). Evidence for a stimulating factor of prolactin and growth
hormone secretion present in brewery draff. Reproduction Nutrition Development, 29, 139-146.
8. Sepehri, H., Renard, C. & Houdebine, L. M. (1990). β-glucan and pectin derivatives stimulate prolactin secretion
from hypophysis in vitro. Proceeding of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine (193-197).
9. Sepehri, H., Zoraghi, R. & Haeri- Rohani, A. (2000). Effect of pectic acid and β-glucan on prolactin secretion by
ovine pituitary explants. Iranian Journal of Science, 1, 99-107.
10. Ross, D.G., Vetivicka, V., Yan, J., Xia, Y. & Vetvickova, J. (1999). Therapeutic intervention with complement
and β-glucan in cancer. Immunopharmacology, 42, 61-74.
11. Brown, D. G. & Gordon, S. (2003). Fungal β-glucans and mammalian immunity. Immunity; 19, 311-315.
12. Kubala, L., Ruzickava, J., Nickova, K., Sandula, J., Ciz, M. & Lojek, A. (2003). The effect of (1→3)β-D-glucan,
carboxymethylglucan and schizophyllan on human leukocytes in vitro. Carbohydrate Research, 338, 2835-2840.
13. Gourdji, D., Tougard, C. & Tixier-Vidal, A. (1982). Clonal prolactin strains as a tool in neuroendocrinology.
Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 7, 317-351.
14. Ray, K. P. & Willis, M. (1984). Studies of TRH-induced prolactin and its inhibition by dopamine, using ovine
pituitary cells. Mollecular Cellular Endocrinology, 36, 131-139.
15. Yuan, X. H., Ju, Y. G., Lu, Sh., Yan, C., Zu, C. Z. & Yong, L. Z. (2002). Get effective polyclonal antisera in one
month. Cell Research, 12, 157-160.
16. Sambrook, J., Fritsch, E. F. & Maniatis, T. (1989). Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual (3 Volume Set),
2nd edition. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
17. Breuel, K. F., Rice, P. K., Duo, P. J., De Ponti, W., Wang, K., Laffan, J., Li, J., Kalbfleisch, J. & Williams, D. L.
(2004). Anterior Pituitary Cells Express Pattern Recognition Receptors for Fungal Glucans: Implications for
Neuroendocrine Immune Involvement in Response to Fungal Infections. Neuroimmunomodulation, 11, 1-9.
18. Lowe, E., Rice, P., Ha, T., Li, C., Kelley, J., Ensley, H. (2001). A (1→3)β-D linked hepatosaccharide is the unit
ligand for glucan pattern recognition receptors on human monocytes. Microbes Infection, 3, 789-797.
19. Michalak, M., Melican, D., Brunke-Resse, D., Langevin, M., Lemerise, K. & Galbraith, W. (1998). Activation of
rat macrophage by betafection PPG-glucan requires cross-linking of membrane receptors distinct from
complement receptors 3 (CF3). Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 64, 337-344.
20. Gonzales, J. A., Digby, J. D., Rice, P. J., Breuel, K. F., DePonti, W. K., Kalbfeisch, J. H., Browder, I. W. &
Williams, D. L. (2004). At low serum β-glucan concentrations there is an inverse correlation between serum β-
glucan and serum cytokine levels. International Immunopharmocology, 4, 1107-1115.
21. Brown, D. G. & Gordon, S. (2001). A new receptor for β-glucan. Nature, 413, 36-37.