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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2012 Sep 25;361(1-2):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2012.03.026. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

Hepatic growth hormone and glucocorticoid receptor signaling in body growth, steatosis and metabolic liver cancer development.

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Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research, Vienna, Austria.


Growth hormone (GH) and glucocorticoids (GCs) are involved in the control of processes that are essential for the maintenance of vital body functions including energy supply and growth control. GH and GCs have been well characterized to regulate systemic energy homeostasis, particular during certain conditions of physical stress. However, dysfunctional signaling in both pathways is linked to various metabolic disorders associated with aberrant carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. In liver, GH-dependent activation of the transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 5 controls a variety of physiologic functions within hepatocytes. Similarly, GCs, through activation of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), influence many important liver functions such as gluconeogenesis. Studies in hepatic Stat5 or GR knockout mice have revealed that they similarly control liver function on their target gene level and indeed, the GR functions often as a cofactor of STAT5 for GH-induced genes. Gene sets, which require physical STAT5-GR interaction, include those controlling body growth and maturation. More recently, it has become evident that impairment of GH-STAT5 signaling in different experimental models correlates with metabolic liver disease, ranging from hepatic steatosis to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). While GH-activated STAT5 has a protective role in chronic liver disease, experimental disruption of GC-GR signaling rather seems to ameliorate metabolic disorders under metabolic challenge. In this review, we focus on the current knowledge about hepatic GH-STAT5 and GC-GR signaling in body growth, metabolism, and protection from fatty liver disease and HCC development.

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