25 February 2005
Growth hormone, Insulin-like growth factors, Growth-hormone-releasing hormone, Neuropeptide Y, Agouti-related peptide, Growth hormone secretagogue receptors, Pro-opiomelanocortin, Ageing, Lou C/Jall rat, Orexins
Since modifications in the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor 1 (GH/IGF-1) axis and/or caloric restriction are involved in the ageing process, GH secretory profiles, total IGF-1, ghrelin, and leptin plasma levels and expression of genes implicated in somatotrope axis and food intake regulation in hypothalamus and pituitary were compared in 3-, 12-, and 24-month-old male Lou C/Jall rats and their parent strain, the Wistar rats. The Lou C/Jall strain may appear as a healthy ageing model, since it does not become obese with age and maintains its caloric intake at 2 years of age. The GH pulsatile secretion decreased from 3 months in Wistar, but only after 12 months in Lou C/Jall rats. The IGF-1 levels were lower in Lou C/Jall rats and decreased more steeply with ageing as compared with Wistar rats. The total ghrelin levels were higher in young Lou C/Jall rats than in Wistar rats, but increased similarly with age in both strains. The leptin concentrations increased with ageing only in Wistar rats. By semiquantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, pituitary GH secretagogue receptors and GH mRNA levels were more abundant in Lou C/Jall rats, and the latter decreased with ageing in Wistar rats only. Hypothalamic growth-hormone-releasing hormone and GH secretagogue receptor mRNA levels were similar in both strains and transiently increased only in middle-aged Wistar rats. Agouti-related peptide, neuropeptide Y, and orexin mRNA levels were more abundant in the Lou C/Jall rat hypothalamus, and the two former tended to further increase with age only in this strain. Conversely, the hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin mRNA levels were higher in old Wistar rats. In conclusion, ageing in Lou C/Jall rats is associated with a delayed decrease in pulsatile GH secretion in the presence of a lower IGF-1 tone and an increase in the expression of orexigenic neuropeptides in the hypothalamus.