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Endocrinology. 1987 Sep;121(3):1061-9.

Differential effects of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor I on colony formation of epiphyseal chondrocytes in suspension culture in rats of different ages.


The effect of human GH (hGH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) on the colony formation of rat epiphyseal chondrocytes was studied in suspension culture. Chondrocytes from epiphyseal growth plates of the proximal tibia of 7-, 20-, and 28-day-old normal male rats were enzymatically isolated and cultured in the presence of 10% newborn calf serum in suspension stabilized with 0.5% agarose. The cloning efficiency (number of formed colonies per 1000 seeded cells) was 13.7 +/- 1.9, 3.2 +/- 0.6, and 3.5 +/- 0.4 for chondrocytes isolated from 7-, 20- and 28-day-old rats and cultured for 14 days, respectively. The colonies were classified according to size (colony diameter), and the number of colonies was estimated as a function of colony size (distribution of cloning efficiency). IGF-I (25-200 ng/ml) increased the total colony number among chondrocytes isolated from the three different age groups and particularly increased the number of small colonies. However, IGF-I did not significantly change the distribution of cloning efficiency as compared to the control group. hGH potentiated colony formation at concentrations of 10-80 ng/ml, but no stimulatory effect of hGH was apparent at a concentration of 160 ng/ml. GH caused an assymetric distribution of cloning efficiency that was significantly different from the control group due to an increased number of large colonies (diameter exceeding 80 microns). The differential effects of GH and IGF-I were apparent after an extended period of culture (28 days) at various concentrations of the peptides. These results show that GH as well as IGF-I induced colony formation among epiphyseal chondrocytes in suspension culture, although the effects of GH and IGF-I are different in terms of distribution of cloning efficiency. The observation that GH particularly potentiated the formation of large size colonies suggests that GH promotes the differentiation of prechondrocytes, or young chondrocytes as suggested earlier. The finding that IGF-I stimulation resulted in a higher proportion of small size chondrocyte colonies, compared to the control group, suggests that IGF-I stimulates epiphyseal chondrocytes at a later stage of differentiation.

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