Alcohol consumption has been shown to increase prolactin (PRL) production and cell proliferation of pituitary lactotropes. It also causes a reduction in the lactotrope's response to dopaminergic agents and a differential expression of dopamine 2 receptor short (D2S) and long (D2L) isoforms in the pituitary. However, the role of each of these D2 receptor isoforms and its coupled G protein in mediation of ethanol actions on lactotropes is not known. We have addressed this issue by comparing ethanol effects on the level of PRL production gene transcription rate cellular protein, G proteins and cell proliferation in enriched lactotropes and lactotrope-derived PR1 cells containing various D2 receptor isoforms. Additionally, we determined the effects of G protein blockade on ethanol-induced PRL production and cell proliferation in these cells. We show here that the D2 receptor, primarily the D2S isoform, is critically involved in the regulation of ethanol actions on PRL production and cell proliferation in lactotropes. We also present data to elucidate that the presence of the pertussis toxin (PTX)-sensitive D2S receptor is critical to mediate the ethanol stimulatory action on Gs and the ethanol's inhibitory action on Gi3 protein in lactotropes. Additionally, we provide evidence for the existence of an inhibitory action of Gi3 on Gs that is under the control of the D2S receptor and is inhibited by ethanol. These results suggest that ethanol via the inhibitory action on D2S receptor activity suppresses Gi3 repression of Gs expression resulting in stimulation of PRL synthesis and cell proliferation in lactotropes.
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