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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2010 May 15;167(1):77-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2010.02.011. Epub 2010 Feb 18.

Pituitary and plasma growth hormone dynamics during sexual maturation of female Atlantic salmon.

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Fish Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Zoology/Zoophysiology, University of Gothenburg, Box 463, SE 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden.


Growth hormone in fish regulates many important physiological processes including growth, metabolism and potentially reproduction. In salmonid fish, GH secretion is episodic with irregularly spaced GH peaks. Plasma GH reflects secretion episodes as well as the clearance rate of the hormone, and plasma levels may thus not always reflect the level of activation of the GH axis. This study measured the production dynamics of GH over a 17-month period in sexually maturing female Atlantic salmon which included final maturation and spawning. For the first time, the level of pituitary GH mRNA, pituitary GH protein and plasma GH protein were analyzed concurrently in the same individuals. mRNA and protein were extracted in parallel from the same samples with subsequent real time quantitative PCR to measure mRNA transcripts and radioimmunoassay to measure pituitary and plasma GH protein. Further, the effects of photoperiod manipulation on these parameters were studied. The results show no correlation between mRNA and protein levels except at some time points, and indicate that it is inappropriate to correlate pooled temporal data and averages in time series unless the relationship among the variables is stable over time. The results indicate complex and shifting relationships between pituitary GH mRNA expression, pituitary GH content and plasma GH levels, which could result from changes in clearance rather than secretion rate at different times and its episodic secretion. The study also suggests that there is a functionally important activation of the GH system during spring leading up to maturation and spawning.

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