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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Feb;292(2):E443-52. Epub 2006 Sep 26.

High-calcium diet modulates effects of long-term prolactin exposure on the cortical bone calcium content in ovariectomized rats.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol Univ., Rama VI Rd., Bangkok, Thailand.


High physiological prolactin induced positive calcium balance by stimulating intestinal calcium absorption, reducing renal calcium excretion, and increasing bone calcium deposition in female rats. Although prolactin-induced increase in trabecular bone calcium deposition was absent after ovariectomy, its effects on cortical bones were still controversial. The present investigation, therefore, aimed to study the effect of in vivo long-term high physiological prolactin induced by either anterior pituitary (AP) transplantation or 2.5 mg/kg prolactin injection on cortical bones in ovariectomized rats. Since the presence of prolactin receptors (PRLR) in different bones of normal adult rats has not been reported, we first determined mRNA expression of both short- and long-form PRLRs at the cortical sites (tibia and femur) and trabecular sites (calvaria and vertebrae) by using the RT-PCR. Our results showed the mRNA expression of both PRLR isoforms with predominant long form at all sites. However, high prolactin levels induced by AP transplantation in normal rats did not have any effect on the femoral bone mineral density or bone mineral content. By using (45)Ca kinetic study, 2.5 mg/kg prolactin did not alter bone formation, bone resorption, calcium deposition, and total calcium content in tibia and femur of adult ovariectomized rats. AP transplantation also had no effect on the cortical total calcium content in adult ovariectomized rats. Because previous work showed that the effects of prolactin were age dependent and could be modulated by high-calcium diet, interactions between prolactin and these two parameters were investigated. The results demonstrated that 2.0% wt/wt high-calcium diet significantly increased the tibial total calcium content in 9-wk-old young AP-grafted ovariectomized rats but decreased the tibial total calcium content in 22-wk-old adult rats. As for the vertebrae, the total calcium contents in both young and adult rats were not changed by high-calcium diet. The present results thus indicated that the adult cortical bones were potentially direct targets of prolactin. Moreover, the effects of high physiological prolactin on cortical bones were age dependent and were observed only under the modulation of high-calcium diet condition.

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