The in vivo and in vitro effects of the dopamine precursor L-dopa on basal and stimulated calcitonin release from medullary thyroid carcinoma have been studied. In six studies of five patients, including 7-to 8-h control and test periods, oral L-dopa depressed basal calcitonin secretion by an average of 35%; the peak effects occurred within 30 min of drug administration and lasted for as long as 4 h. In seven of eight patients with medullary thyroid carcinoma (three infused with calcium and five with pentagastrin), L-dopa inhibited to varying degrees peak levels of stimulated calcitonin release and total calcitonin secretion; basal calcitonin levels, where directly tested, also again generally fell after L-dopa by an average of 50%. In a short term organ culture system using medullary thyroid carcinoma tissues, calcitonin secretion into the medium was linear with time for 2 h and could be stimulated by dibutyryl cAMP and pentagastrin. L-Dopa, in concentrations from 0.5-3.0 mM, inhibited basal calcitonin secretion (ranging from 25-55%). Addition of the L-dopa decarboxylase inhibitor, a-methyldopa, abolished the inhibitory effects of L-dopa. Another L-dopa decarboxylase inhibitor, carbidopa, stimulated calcitonin secretion in vitro; this effect may be independent of the L-dopa decarboxylase-inhibiting properties of this drug since a-methyldopa alone did not stimulate calcitonin secretion. It is concluded that the amine precursor L-dopa inhibits calcitonin release in patients with medullary thyroid carcinoma; the in vitro studies suggest that a portion of this effect may involve direct metabolism of L-dopa to dopamine in the tumor tissue itself. The importance of considering the uptake of amine precursors and the subsequent metabolism of these compounds as a modulating site for peptide hormone release from peripheral endocrine tissues is stressed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical