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      The Role of Growth Hormone in Neural Development

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          Growth hormone (GH) is integrally involved in the development of the central nervous system (CNS), as well as during its recovery from injury, two processes that share many similarities and may influence CNS functionality. This review discusses some of the most recent findings in the field and, in particular, the ontogeny, distribution, regulation and putative functions of GH and its receptor within the CNS, particularly during development. The relative roles of peripheral GH, acting in part through insulin-like growth factor-I, and of the autocrine/paracrine GH system within the brain are considered. The potential role of GH as a therapeutic agent to influence brain development and function is discussed.

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          Most cited references 59

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          Igf1 gene disruption results in reduced brain size, CNS hypomyelination, and loss of hippocampal granule and striatal parvalbumin-containing neurons.

          Homozygous Igf1-/- mice at 2 months of age had reduced brain weights, with reductions evenly affecting all major brain areas. The gross morphology of the CNS was normal, but the size of white matter structures in brain and spinal cord was strongly reduced, owing to decreased numbers of axons and oligodendrocytes. Myelinated axons were more strongly reduced in number than unmyelinated axons. The volume of the dentate gyrus granule cell layer was reduced in excess of the decrease in brain weight. Among populations of calcium-binding protein-containing neurons, there was a selective reduction in the number of striatal parvalbumin-containing cells. Numbers of mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons, striatal and basal forebrain cholinergic neurons, and spinal cord motoneurons were unaffected. Cerebellar morphology was unaltered. Our findings suggest cell type- and region-specific functions for IGF-I and emphasize prominent roles in axon growth and maturation in CNS myelination.
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            Leptin enters the brain by a saturable system independent of insulin

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              Growth hormone heterogeneity: genes, isohormones, variants, and binding proteins.

              Human GH represents a family of proteins rather than a single hormone. The circulation contains a bewildering array of GH forms, including several monomeric variants, their homo- and heteropolymers, fragments, and complexes with at least two BPs. The net biological activity of this mixture is difficult to predict, as the various molecular forms interact as partial agonists and/or antagonists at the receptor level. The number of GH forms that can be counted in plasma exceeds 100. Table 5 attempts to illustrate what is known and provide estimates for circulating variants. It does not include GH-V and its variants, which have to be added in pregnancy. Of note, what is commonly understood as "plasma GH," i.e. free monomeric 22K, represents only 21% of total immunoreactivity in plasma. In view of this complicated picture, it should be no surprise that different assays of plasma GH yield different results (107, 108, 290). While immunoassays are relatively unaffected by the BPs (291), receptor assays are seriously affected by the high affinity BP (261). Immunoassays, particularly of the monoclonal variety, are vulnerable to differential recognition of molecular variants depending on the unique epitope specificity of the antibody used. Polyclonal assays are more robust in this regard because of "epitope averaging" among the wide spectrum of epitope specificities present in the antibody population. Future work should aim at developing antibodies that are specific for individual GH variants. Such molecular probes will be helpful not only in standardizing immunoassays, but also in delineating the biological role of the various GH forms. The physiological significance of the numerous GH forms (or of the BPs) is still largely unknown. Progress in this area has been hampered, on the one hand, by the unavailability of pure GH variants in quantities sufficient for biological studies, and, on the other, by a certain lack of interest stemming from suspicions about artifacts. The recent resurgence of interest in GH and in its receptor and BPs should also refocus attention on the various molecular forms. Thus far, this interest has been largely confined to monomeric 22K, which is certainly effective for its original intended purpose, namely growth promotion. Whether 22K is sufficient for optimal growth and development, or whether it can fulfill all the functions of the GH family is unknown. It can be argued that evolutionarily conserved GH variants probably have biological importance.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                February 2006
                27 January 2006
                : 64
                : Suppl 3
                : 66-72
                Liggins Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
                89320 Horm Res 2005;64:66–72
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, References: 84, Pages: 7


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