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Endocrinology. 2011 May;152(5):1948-60. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-1423. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Lack of dietary carbohydrates induces hepatic growth hormone (GH) resistance in rats.

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Endocrine Research Unit, Medizinische Klinik-Innenstadt, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany.


GH is a well established regulator of growth, lipid, and glucose metabolism and therefore important for fuel utilization. However, little is known about the effects of macronutrients on the GH/IGF system. We used low-carbohydrate/high-fat diets (LC-HFD) as a model to study the impact of fat, protein, and carbohydrates on the GH/IGF-axis; 12-wk-old Wistar rats were fed either regular chow, a moderate, protein-matched LC-HFD, or a ketogenic LC-HFD (percentage of fat/protein/carbohydrates: chow, 16.7/19/64.3; LC-HF-1, 78.7/19.1/2.2; LC-HF-2, 92.8/5.5/1.7). After 4 wk, body and tibia length, lean body mass, and fat pad weights were measured. Furthermore, we investigated the effects of LC-HFD on 1) secretion of GH and GH-dependent factors, 2) expression and signaling of components of the GH/IGF system in liver and muscle, and 3) hypothalamic and pituitary regulation of GH release. Serum concentrations of IGF-I, IGF binding protein-1, and IGF binding protein-3 were lower with LC-HF-1 and LC-HF-2 (P < 0.01). Both LC-HFD-reduced hepatic GH receptor mRNA and protein expression, decreased basal levels of total and phosphorylated Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription signaling proteins and reduced hepatic IGF-I gene expression. Hypothalamic somatostatin expression was reduced only with LC-HF-1, leading to increased pituitary GH secretion, higher IGF-I gene expression, and activation of IGF-dependent signaling pathways in skeletal muscle. In contrast, despite severely reduced IGF-I concentrations, GH secretion did not increase with LC-HF-2 diet. In conclusion, lack of carbohydrates in LC-HFD induces hepatic GH resistance. Furthermore, central feedback mechanisms of the GH/IGF system are impaired with extreme, ketogenic LC-HFD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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