Sex differences in somatotrope response to fasting: biphasic responses in male mice

in Journal of Endocrinology
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  • 1 Department of Neurobiology & Developmental Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to T K Miles: tkmiles@uams.edu
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Anterior pituitary somatotropes are important metabolic sensors responding to leptin by secreting growth hormone (GH). However, reduced leptin signals caused by fasting have not always correlated with reduced serum GH. Reports show that fasting may stimulate or reduce GH secretion, depending on the species. Mechanisms underlying these distinct somatotrope responses to fasting remain unknown. To define the somatotrope response to decreased leptin signaling we examined markers of somatotrope function over different time periods of fasting. Male mice were fasted for 24 and 48 h, with female mice fasted for 24 h compared to fed controls ad libitum. Body weight and serum glucose were reduced in both males and females, but, unexpectedly, serum leptin was reduced only in males. Furthermore, in males, serum GH levels showed a biphasic response with significant reductions at 24 h followed by a significant rise at 48 h, which coincided with the rise in serum ghrelin levels. In contrast, females showed an increase in serum GH at 24 h. We then explored mechanisms underlying the differential somatotrope responses seen in males and observed that pituitary levels of Gh mRNA increased, with no distinction between acute and prolonged fasting. By contrast, the Ghrhr mRNA (encoding GH releasing hormone receptor) and the Ghsr mRNA (encoding the ghrelin receptor) were both greatly increased at prolonged fasting times coincident with increased serum GH. These findings show sex differences in the somatotrope and adipocyte responses to fasting and support an adaptive role for somatotropes in males in response to multiple metabolic signals.

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