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Endocrinology. 1989 Dec;125(6):2905-14.

Thyroid hormone and growth hormone interact to regulate insulin-like growth factor-I messenger ribonucleic acid and circulating levels in the rat.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Charles A. Dana Research Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.


Thyroid hormones influence growth in part by altering the secretion and effects of GH. GH, in turn, mediates its effects by regulating the synthesis and secretion of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). IGF-I is a pleiotropic growth factor that is synthesized by many tissues and acts on many tissues to regulate both cellular replication and differentiated function. We have studied the direct effects of thyroid hormones and the combined effects of thyroid hormones and GH on the regulation of IGF-I synthesis and secretion in hypophysectomized (hypox) rats in vivo. All rats, except normal littermates and a hypox control group, received 100 micrograms hydrocortisone/100 g BW for 10 days. Circulating IGF-I was measured by specific RIA (normal rats, 1 U/ml), and hepatic IGF-I mRNA was measured by Northern blot hybridization with an antisense cRNA probe. 1) Hypox rats treated with hGH (75 micrograms, ip, twice daily) for 10 days gained 17 g BW vs. 70 g for normal littermates. GH markedly increased hepatic IGF-I mRNA and circulating IGF-I (0.52 +/- 0.14 U/ml 12 h after the last GH injection vs. 0.03 +/- 0.02 for hypox controls). 2) T4 (1 micrograms/100 g BW, ip) for 10 days increased neither weight, hepatic IGF-I mRNA, nor circulating IGF-I. 3) Rats treated with T4 for 10 days followed by a single injection of 1 mg GH, ip, increased hepatic IGF-I mRNA and circulating IGF-I levels comparably as in rats receiving acute GH alone (IGF-I, 12 h, 0.31 +/- 0.09 vs. 0.36 +/- 0.06 U/ml). 4) Hypox rats treated with a single injection of T3 (1.5 micrograms/100 g BW, ip) had slightly increased hepatic IGF-I mRNA, but showed no significant change in circulating IGF-I levels. 5) A single injection of T3 plus GH to hypox rats increased IGF-I mRNA levels above those in rats injected with GH alone and increased serum IGF-I levels to 0.48 +/- 0.12 U/ml compared to 0.36 +/- 0.06 U/ml for GH alone. 6) After 10 days of GH treatment, a single injection of T3 lowered both hepatic IGF-I mRNA and circulating IGF-I (0.52 +/- 0.14 to 0.16 +/- 0.06 U/ml, 6 h after T3). These studies demonstrate that thyroid hormones have relatively little direct effect on IGF-I synthesis but can have major effects on GH-stimulated IGF-I synthesis and secretion. The pattern of these effects depends on the integrity of the pituitary gland, prior exposure of the liver to GH and/or thyroid hormones, and the temporal relationship between GH and thyroid hormone administration.

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