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Histochem Cell Biol. 2010 Nov;134(5):483-91. doi: 10.1007/s00418-010-0745-3. Epub 2010 Oct 2.

Possible chondroregulatory role of prolactin on the tibial growth plate of lactating rats.

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Consortium for Calcium and Bone Research (COCAB), Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama VI Road, Bangkok, 10400, Thailand.


Besides calcium accretion in the cortical envelope, a marked increase in the length of long bone was observed in pregnant and lactating rats, and thus the growth plate change was anticipated. Since several bone changes, such as massive trabecular bone resorption in late lactation, were found to be prolactin (PRL)-dependent, PRL may also be responsible for the maternal bone elongation. Herein, we investigated the growth plate change and possible chondroregulatory roles of PRL in the tibiae of rats at mid-pregnancy until 15 days postweaning. We found that the tibial length of lactating rats was increased and was inversely correlated with the total growth plate height, as well as the heights of proliferating zone (PZ) and hypertrophic zone (HZ), but not the resting zone (RZ). Chondrocytes in all zones expressed PRL receptors as visualized by immunohistochemistry, suggesting that the growth plate cartilage was a target of PRL action. Further investigations in lactating rats treated with an inhibitor of pituitary PRL release, bromocriptine, with or without PRL supplement, revealed the PRL-induced decreases in total growth plate height and HZ height from early to late lactation. However, decreases in RZ and PZ heights were observed only in late and mid-lactation, respectively. Thus, this was the first report on the chondroregulatory action of PRL on the growth plate of long bone in lactating rats. The results provided better understanding of the maternal bone adaptation during lactation.

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