Supplementary Material for: Bromocriptine and Dopamine Mediate Independent and Synergistic Apoptotic Pathways in Pituitary Cells

Dopamine (DA) agonists are the primary treatment choice for prolactinoma, effectively suppressing prolactin expression and reducing tumour size. However, the intracellular pathway(s) through which either DA or its agonists impact on proliferation or lead to tumour shrinkage are incompletely understood. To identify the mediators in the apoptotic cascades after DA or DA agonist challenges we used a well-characterized model system, the rodent somatolactotroph cell line GH3. In these cells, we show that apoptosis induced by the DA agonist bromocriptine (BC), but not DA, is initiated through activation of the JNK pathway. However, both DA and BC activate the terminal effector caspase, caspase-3. Kinetic studies and chemical inhibitor co-incubation experiments support a role for JNK activation preceding caspase-9 activation in BC challenged cells, however, engagement of these mediators was not apparent in DA challenge cells. These studies suggest that apoptosis induced by BC or DA is mediated through distinct and independent pathways that converge with activation of the terminal caspase, caspase-3. These observations were further reinforced by our findings that DA and BC, in co-incubation experiments, synergistically induce apoptosis. These findings raise the possibility that drugs acting through the same pathway as DA may be clinically beneficial when combined with BC.