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Endocrinology. 1995 May;136(5):2099-109.

The molecular response of bone to growth hormone during skeletal unloading: regional differences.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA.
U CA, San Francisco


Hind limb elevation of the growing rat provides a good model for the skeletal changes that occur during space flight. In this model the bones of the forelimbs (normally loaded) are used as an internal control for the changes that occur in the unloaded bones of the hind limbs. Previous studies have shown that skeletal unloading of the hind limbs results in a transient reduction of bone formation in the tibia and femur, with no change in the humerus. This fall in bone formation is accompanied by a fall in serum osteocalcin (bone Gla protein, BGP) and bone BGP messenger RNA (mRNA) levels, but a rise in bone insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) protein and mRNA levels and resistance to the skeletal growth-promoting actions of IGF-I. To determine whether skeletal unloading also induced resistance to GH, we evaluated the response of the femur and humerus of sham and hypophysectomized rats, control and hind limb elevated, to GH (two doses), measuring mRNA levels of IGF-I, BGP, rat bone alkaline phosphatase (RAP), and alpha 1(1)-procollagen (coll). Hypophysectomy (HPX) decreased the mRNA levels of IGF-I, BGP, and coll in the femur, but was either less effective or had the opposite effect in the humerus. GH at the higher dose (500 micrograms/day) restored these mRNA levels to or above the sham control values in the femur, but generally had little or no effect on the humerus. RAP mRNA levels were increased by HPX, especially in the femur. The lower dose of GH (50 micrograms/day) inhibited this rise in RAP, whereas the higher dose raised the mRNA levels and resulted in the appearance of additional transcripts not seen in controls. As for the other mRNAs, RAP mRNA in the humerus was less affected by HPX or GH than that in the femur. Hind limb elevation led to an increase in IGF-I, coll, and RAP mRNAs and a reduction in BGP mRNA in the femur and either had no effect or potentiated the response of these mRNAs to GH. We conclude that GH stimulates a number of markers of bone formation by raising their mRNA levels, and that skeletal unloading does not block this response, but the response varies substantially from bone to bone.

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