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      Oestrogen Replacement in vivo Rescues the Dysfunction of Pituitary Somatotropes in Ovariectomised Aromatase Knockout Mice

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          The mechanism of regulation of growth hormone (GH) secretion by oestrogens and androgens is still controversial. Available data on the action of oestrogens on GH expression and secretion in somatotropes is poorly understood. We previously reported that the aromatase knockout (ArKO) mouse with oestrogen deficiency and excessive androgen levels had dysfunctional somatotropes. In order to clarify the influence of androgen and oestrogen, we investigated the in vivo treatment of ovariectomised (OVX) ArKO mice with exogenous oestradiol (E<sub>2</sub>) on the mRNA expression of GH, GH-secretagogue receptor (GHS-R), GH-releasing hormone receptor (GHRH-R), pituitary-specific transcription factor (Pit-1), and somatostatin receptors (sst1–5) in pituitary glands. Circulating plasma GH levels were also evaluated. The results showed that ArKO/OVX mice have a low expression of pituitary GH, GHRH-R, GHS-R and Pit-1, and significantly reduced GH levels. Treatment of female ArKO/OVX (E<sub>2</sub>-deficient without excessive androgen) mice with E<sub>2</sub> for 21 days enhanced expression of pituitary GHRH-R and Pit-1 to 151 and 168%, respectively, of that in mice without treatment. E<sub>2</sub> treatment increased GH expression and plasma levels in ArKO/OVX mice to levels comparable with those in wild-type female mice. We conclude therefore that long-term E<sub>2</sub> replacement rescues the dysfunction of somatotropes in ArKO/OVX mice through increases in expression of GH, GHRH-R, and Pit-1 in the pituitary somatotropes, whereas the level of androgen in this oestrogen-deficient female mouse does not significantly influence the function of somatotropes.

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          Most cited references 33

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          A receptor in pituitary and hypothalamus that functions in growth hormone release.

          Small synthetic molecules termed growth hormone secretagogues (GHSs) act on the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus to stimulate and amplify pulsatile growth hormone (GH) release. A heterotrimeric GTP-binding protein (G protein)-coupled receptor (GPC-R) of the pituitary and arcuate ventro-medial and infundibular hypothalamus of swine and humans was cloned and was shown to be the target of the GHSs. On the basis of its pharmacological and molecular characterization, this GPC-R defines a neuroendocrine pathway for the control of pulsatile GH release and supports the notion that the GHSs mimic an undiscovered hormone.
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            Deletion of ghrelin impairs neither growth nor appetite.

            Pharmacological studies show that ghrelin stimulates growth hormone release, appetite, and fat deposition, but ghrelin's physiological role in energy homeostasis has not been established. Ghrelin was also proposed to regulate leptin and insulin release and to be important for the normal function of stomach, heart, kidney, lung, testis, and placenta. To help determine a definable physiological role for ghrelin, we generated ghrelin-null mice. In contrast to predictions made from the pharmacology of ghrelin, ghrelin-null mice are not anorexic dwarfs; their size, growth rate, food intake, body composition, reproduction, gross behavior, and tissue pathology are indistinguishable from wild-type littermates. Fasting produces identical decreases in serum leptin and insulin in null and wild-type mice. Ghrelin-null mice display normal responses to starvation and diet-induced obesity. As in wild-type mice, the administration of exogenous ghrelin stimulates appetite in null mice. Our data show that ghrelin is not critically required for viability, fertility, growth, appetite, bone density, and fat deposition and not likely to be a direct regulator of leptin and insulin. Therefore, antagonists of ghrelin are unlikely to have broad utility as antiobesity agents.
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              Characterization of mice deficient in aromatase (ArKO) because of targeted disruption of the cyp19 gene.

              The formation of estrogens from C19 steroids is catalyzed by aromatase cytochrome P450 (P450arom), the product of the cyp19 gene. The actions of estrogen include dimorphic anatomical, functional, and behavioral effects on the development of both males and females, considerations that prompted us to examine the consequences of deficiency of aromatase activity in mice. Mice lacking a functional aromatase enzyme (ArKO) were generated by targeted disruption of the cyp19 gene. Male and female ArKO mice were born with the expected Mendelian frequency from F1 parents and grew to adulthood. Female ArKO mice at 9 weeks of age displayed underdeveloped external genitalia and uteri. Ovaries contained numerous follicles with abundant granulosa cells and evidence of antrum formation that appeared arrested before ovulation. No corpora lutea were present. Additionally the stroma were hyperplastic with structures that appeared to be atretic follicles. Development of the mammary glands approximated that of a prepubertal female. Examination of male ArKO mice of the same age revealed essentially normal internal anatomy but with enlargement of the male accessory sex glands because of increased content of secreted material. The testes appeared normal. Male ArKO mice are capable of breeding and produce litters of approximately average size. Whereas serum estradiol levels were at the limit of detection, testosterone levels were elevated, as were the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. The phenotype of these animals differs markedly from that of the previously reported ERKO mice, in which the estrogen receptor alpha is deleted by targeted disruption.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                July 2005
                29 July 2005
                : 81
                : 3
                : 158-166
                Prince Henry’s Institute of Medical Research, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
                86864 Neuroendocrinology 2005;81:158–166
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 4, References: 51, Pages: 9
                Original Paper


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