Effect of pulsatile growth hormone administration to the growth-restricted fetal sheep on somatotrophic axis gene expression in fetal and placental tissues.Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2006; 291(2):E333-9AJ
We have previously reported (Bauer MK, Breier BH, Bloomfield FH, Jensen EC, Gluckman PD, and Harding JE. J Endocrinol 177: 83-92, 2003) that a chronic pulsatile infusion of growth hormone (GH) to intrauterine growth-restricted (IUGR) ovine fetuses increased fetal circulating IGF-I levels without increasing fetal growth. We hypothesized a cortisol-induced upregulation of fetal hepatic GH receptor (GH-R) mRNA levels, secondary increases in IGF-I mRNA levels, and circulating IGF-I levels, but a downregulation of the type I IGF receptor (IGF-IR) as an explanation. We, therefore, measured mRNA levels of genes of the somatotrophic axis by real-time RT-PCR in fetal and placental tissues of fetuses with IUGR (induced by uteroplacental embolization from 110- to 116-days gestation) that received either a pulsatile infusion of GH (total dose 3.5 mg/day) or vehicle from 117-126 days and in control fetuses (n = 5 per group). Tissues were collected at 127 days (term, 145 days). Fetal cortisol concentrations were significantly increased in IUGR fetuses. However, in liver, GH-R, but not IGF-I or IGF-IR, mRNA levels were decreased in both IUGR groups. In contrast, in placenta, GH-R, IGF-I, and IGF-IR expression were increased in IUGR vehicle-infused fetuses. GH infusion further increased placental GH-R and IGF-IR, but abolished the increase in IGF-I mRNA levels. GH infusion reduced IGF-I expression in muscle and increased GH-R but decreased IGF-IR expression in kidney. IUGR increased hepatic IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1 and placental IGFBP-2 and -3 mRNA levels with no further effect of GH infusion. In conclusion, the modest increases in circulating cortisol concentrations in IUGR fetuses did not increase hepatic GH-R mRNA expression and, therefore, do not explain the increased circulating IGF-I levels that we found with GH infusion, which are likely due to reduced clearance rather than increased production. We demonstrate tissue-specific regulation of the somatotrophic axis in IUGR fetuses and a discontinuity between GH-R and IGF-I gene expression in GH-infused fetuses that is not explained by alterations in phosphorylated STAT5b.