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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Mar;100(3):1037-42. Epub 2005 Dec 8.

Basal and evoked levels of bioassayable growth hormone are altered by hindlimb unloading.

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Department of Neurobiology, Univ. of California, Los Angeles, 1804 Life Science Bldg., 621 Charles E Young Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Bioassayable growth hormone (BGH) in rats is released in large quantities from the pituitary in response to the activation of large, proprioceptive afferent fibers from fast and mixed fiber-type hindlimb musculature. We hypothesized that hindlimb unloading (HU) of adult male rats would 1) reduce the basal levels of plasma BGH, and 2) abolish stimulus-induced BGH release. Rats were exposed to HU for 1, 4, or 8 wk. Plasma and pituitaries were collected under isoflurane anesthesia for hormone analyses. Additionally, at 4 and 8 wk, a subset of rats underwent an in situ electrical stimulation (Stim) of tibial nerve proprioceptive afferents. Basal plasma BGH levels were significantly reduced (-51 and -23%) after 1 and 8 wk of HU compared with ambulatory controls (Amb). Although Amb-Stim rats exhibited increased plasma BGH levels (88 and 143%) and decreased pituitary BGH levels (-27 and -22%) at 4 and 8 wk, respectively, stimulation in HU rats had the opposite effect, reducing plasma BGH (-25 and -33%) and increasing pituitary BGH levels (47 and 10%) relative to HU alone at 4 and 8 wk. The 22-kDa form of GH measured by immunoassay and the plasma corticosterone, T3, T4, and testosterone levels were unchanged by HU or Stim at all time points. These data suggest that BGH synthesis and release from the pituitary are sensitive both to chronically reduced neuromuscular loading and to acute changes in neuromuscular activation, independent of changes in other circulating hormones. Thus BGH may play a role in muscle, bone, and metabolic adaptations that occur in response to chronically unloaded states.

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