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A Zung, M Phillip, SA Chalew, T Palese, AA Kowarski, and Z Zadik

Several studies have suggested that testosterone may have a direct, GH-independent effect on growth. In order to assess possible mechanism(s) whereby testosterone exerts its growth-promoting effect, we evaluated its effect on growth mediators of the GH-IGF-I axis, in both the liver and the epiphyseal growth plate (EGP). Testosterone was administered to peripubertal rats and the responses of mRNA of GH receptor, IGF-I, IGF-I receptor and IGF-binding proteins-1 and -3 (IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-3) as well as circulating IGF-I were evaluated in two time-related models: over 12 h after a single injection (short-term study) and 10 days after continuous administration (long-term study). Rats in the short-term study were castrated and were killed 1, 4, 6 and 12 h post injection. Rats in the long-term study were divided into two groups: castrated vs castrated and hypophysectomized, in order to assess the effect of testosterone in the presence and absence of GH. mRNA levels were determined by RNase protection assay, and serum IGF-I by RIA. Testosterone enhanced weight gain in the rats treated for 10 days, a change that was similar in the presence or absence of GH. This effect was relatively small, however, by comparison with the total weight gained without testosterone. Testosterone had no effect on hepatic IGF-I mRNA abundance but induced a reduction in circulating IGF-I levels, in both the short- and long-term study. Testosterone had no effect on hepatic GH receptor and IGFBP-3 mRNA levels but resulted in a transient, short-term elevation in IGFBP-1 mRNA levels that was maximal 4 h post injection.In the EGP, neither testosterone administration nor hypophysectomy had any effect on IGF-I and IGF-I receptor mRNA levels. However, testosterone increased GH receptor mRNA abundance after 10 days of continuous administration in hypophysectomized rats only.These data suggest that the effect of testosterone on growth (as assessed by weight gain) is small and is not mediated by changes in hepatic gene expression of IGF-I, IGF-I receptor, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-3 or circulating IGF-I. At the EGP, the testosterone effect on linear growth is not mediated through changes in mRNA abundance of IGF-I and IGF-I receptor. The small but significant elevation of GH receptor mRNA levels in hypophysectomized rats may suggest a testosterone-mediated augmentation of a GH effect at the target organ.

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M Phillip, H Werner, T Palese, A A Kowarski, B Stannard, L A Bach, D LeRoith, and C T Roberts Jr


Nephropathy, one of the major complications of diabetes mellitus, is characterized by an early increase in kidney size. In experimental models of diabetes, this event is preceded by a rapid and transient rise in kidney IGF-I levels, at least in adult animals. Since diabetes-associated renal changes are uncommon in young patients, we investigated the early changes in the components of the IGF system following induction of diabetes in prepubertal and postpubertal rats. The rationale for this study was the evaluation of potential differences which could lead to kidney complications only at adult stages.

Unlike the situation in the postpubertal kidney, in which there was a transient accumulation of extractable IGF-I 24–48 h after streptozotocin (STZ) administration, there was a decrease of ∼12-fold in the level of IGF-I in the prepubertal kidney over the same period of time. Paradoxically, kidney IGF-I mRNA levels were reduced by ∼50% in the postpubertal rat 24 h after STZ treatment, whereas in the prepubertal kidney IGF-I mRNA levels were unaltered. Furthermore, the levels of IGF-I receptor mRNA and 125I-labelled IGF-I binding to kidney membranes of postpubertal diabetic rats were similar to the levels in control kidneys. On the other hand, both the levels of IGF-I receptor mRNA and 125I-labelled IGF-I binding were increased (∼2·5-fold (after 24 h) and ∼ 3-fold (after 48 h) respectively) in prepubertal animals. In addition, increased expression of IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1 mRNA was seen early in diabetes in both pre- and postpubertal rats.

The results of this study suggest that the transient accumulation of IGF-I in the kidney of the postpubertal diabetic rat may not be due to an increase in the local synthesis of IGF-I, but rather to an increase in IGF-I uptake from the circulation due to non-membrane-associated IGFBP-1. The lack of accumulation of IGF-I in the prepubertal kidney probably reflects the ∼ 10-fold lower levels of circulating IGF-I in young as compared with adult diabetic rats.