Deprivation of growth hormone-releasing hormone early in the rat's neonatal life permanently affects somatotropic function

Silvano G. Cella, Vittorio Locatelli, Tiziana Mennini, Antonia Zanini, Caterina Bendotti, Gian Luigi Forloni, Guido Fumagalli, Victor M. Arce, Vito De Gennaro Colonna, William B. Wehrenberg, Eugenio E. Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work investigated in rats whether passive immunization against the endogenous GHRF in the early postnatal period led to permanent alterations of somatotropic function, similar to those observed in several human growth disorders, e.g. constitutional growth delay (CGD). On postnatal days 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10, rats were given an anti-GHRF-serum (GHRH-Ab, 100 μl/rat, sc) and were tested 1, 30, and 60 days after this treatment for basal and GHRH-stimulated GH secretion both in vivo and in vitro. GHRH-Ab reduced both basal and GHRF-stimulated GH secretion at all intervals and induced marked and chronic impairment of growth rate. The following differences were observed in the GHRH-Ab-treated rats compared to normal rabbit serum-treated controls: 1) GH biosynthesis (incorporation of L-[3H]leucine into the electrophoretic band of GH): reduction of about 70%, 1 day but not 30 days after treatment ; 2) Pituitary weight: significant reduction in absolute weight (30-40%) at all posttreatment intervals, and relative weight, 1 and 30 days after treatment. 3) Pituitary GH concentration: significant reduction in GH content (about 40%) but not concentration, at all posttreatment intervals; 4) Percentage of somatotrophs (immunocytochemistry): about 40% reduction 1 day, but not 30 and 60 days after treatment; 5) Hypothalamic somatostatin messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in situ hybridization): selective reduction (40%) in the periventricular nucleus 1 day but not 30 days after treatment; 6) Hypothalamic somatostatin cell number (immunocytochemistry): no significant changes in any hypothalamic area at any interval; 7) Pituitary somatostatin binding (in situ autoradiography): significant reduction, 1 day and 30 days after treatment; 8) Somatostatin inhibition of GH release "in vitro": somatostatin effect on GH release was reduced 30 days after treatment. These and previous data indicate that: 1) Transient deprivation of GHRF in the immediate postnatal period of the rat leads to permanent impairment of growth rate and somatotropic function; 2) GHRF deficiency itself or through reduction of GH secretion impairs somatostatin functions temporarily in the hypothalamus and permanently in the pituitary; 3) This rat model may mimic some forms of growth disorders in humans and holds promise as useful tools for investigating the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1625-1634
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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