Isolation of gamma-amino butyric acid from pig hypothalami and demonstration of its prolactin release-inhibiting (PIF) activity in vivo and in vitro

Andrew V. Schally, Tommie W. Redding, Akira Arimura, Andre Dupont, George L. Linthicum

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176 Scopus citations


A non-retarded fraction with prolactin-release inhibiting factor (PIF) activity obtained by chromatography of a concentrate of porcine hypothalami on carboxymethyl-cellulose was chromatographically distinct from catecholamines. This fraction was purified further by six steps involving chromatography on Sephadex G-25, countercurrent distribution, free-flow electrophoresis, and chromatography on triethylaminoethyl cellulose. The PIF-active substance was isolated and identified as γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) by: 1) amino acid analyses using sodium as well as lithium-based buffers for resolution of biological fluids, 2) thin-layer chromatography of underivatized material as well as phenylthiocarbamyl derivatives, and 3) mass spectroscopy. Natural and synthetic GABA inhibited prolactin, but not LH release in vitro from isolated rat pituitary halves at doses as low as 0.1 μg/ml. The inhibition was proportional to the dose; natural and synthetic GABA possessed identical PIF activity. Synthetic GABA also decreased prolactin release in monolayer cultures of rat pituitary cells and inhibited TRH-stimulated prolactin release. The inhibition of prolactin release in vitro by GABA could not be blocked by perphenazine, which inhibits PIF activity of catecholamines. GABA also suppressed prolactin release in vivo, although large doses were needed. Either rapid iv injection or infusion of GABA in doses of 1 to 100 mg in rats significantly decreased serum prolactin levels, which were previously elevated by pretreatment with monoiodotyrosine perphenazine, chlorpromazine, haloperidol, or sulpiride. β-hydroxy GABA significantly depressed prolactin release, but β-(p-chlorophenyl)-GABA (Lioresal, CIBA) and 4 other analogs of GABA were not effective in vivo and/or in vitro. The results indicate that GABA can inhibit prolactin release by a direct action on the pituitary gland, but whether this effect is physiologically meaningful still remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-691
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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