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Åsa Tivesten, Anna Barlind, Kenneth Caidahl, Natalia Klintland, Antonio Cittadini, Claes Ohlsson and Jörgen Isgaard

Growth hormone (GH) deficiency is associated with abnormal vascular reactivity and development of atherosclerosis. GH treatment in GH deficient states restores systemic vascular resistance, arterial compliance, endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent vasodilation, and may reverse markers of early atherosclerosis. However, very little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying these effects. In the present study, male Sprague Dawley rats were hypophysectomized and treated for two weeks with GH (recombinant human GH, 2 mg/kg/day) or saline as s.c. injections twice daily. GH decreased aortic systolic blood pressure compared with saline-treated animals, while the diastolic blood pressure was not significantly changed. GH treatment increased cardiac output as determined by Doppler-echocardiography and the calculated systemic vascular resistance was markedly reduced. In order to identify GH-regulated genes of importance for vascular function, aortic mRNA levels were analyzed by the microarray technique and correlated to the systolic blood pressure levels. Using this approach, we identified 18 GH-regulated genes with possible impact on vascular tone and atherogenesis. In particular, mRNA levels of the inwardly rectifying potassium channel Kir6.1 and the sulfonylurea receptor 2B, which together form the vascular smooth muscle ATP-sensitive potassium channel, were both up-regulated by GH treatment and highly correlated to systolic blood pressure. Our findings establish a major role for GH in the regulation of vascular physiology and gene expression. Increased expression of the ATP-sensitive potassium channel, recently shown to be crucial in the regulation of vascular tone, constitutes a possible mechanism by which GH governs vascular tone.

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Johan Svensson, Åsa Tivesten, Klara Sjögren, Olle Isaksson, Göran Bergström, Subburaman Mohan, Johan Mölne, Jörgen Isgaard and Claes Ohlsson

The GH/-IGF-I axis is important for kidney size and function and may also be involved in the development of renal failure. In this study, the role of liver-derived endocrine IGF-I for kidney size and function was investigated in mice with adult liver-specific IGF-I inactivation (LI-IGF-I−/− mice). These mice have an 80–85% reduction of serum IGF-I level and compensatory increased GH secretion. Seven-month-old as well as 24-month-old LI-IGF-I−/− mice had decreased kidney weight. Glomerular filtration rate, assessed using creatinine clearance as well as creatinine clearance corrected for body weight, was unchanged. The 24-h urine excretion of sodium and potassium was increased in the LI-IGF-I−/− mice. In the 24-month-old mice, there was no between-group difference in kidney morphology. Microarray and real-time PCR (RT-PCR) analyses showed a high renal expression of IGF-II in the control mice, whereas in the LI-IGF-I−/− mice, there was a tissue-specific decrease in the renal IGF-II mRNA levels (−79%, P < 0.001 vs controls using RT-PCR). In conclusion, deficiency of circulating liver-derived IGF-I in mice results, despite an increase in GH secretion, in a global symmetrical decrease in kidney size, increased urinary sodium and potassium excretion, and a clear down regulation of renal IGF-II expression. However, the LI-IGF-I−/− mice did not develop kidney failure or nephrosclerosis. One may speculate that liver-derived endocrine IGF-I induces renal IGF-II expression, resulting in symmetrical renal growth.

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Joyce Emons, Andrei S Chagin, Torun Malmlöf, Magnus Lekman, Åsa Tivesten, Claes Ohlsson, Jan M Wit, Marcel Karperien and Lars Sävendahl

Longitudinal bone growth is regulated in the growth plate. At the end of puberty, growth velocity diminishes and eventually ceases with the fusion of the growth plate through mechanisms that are not yet completely understood. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has an important role in angiogenesis, but also in chondrocyte differentiation, chondrocyte survival, and the final stages of endochondral ossification. Estrogens have been shown to up-regulate VEGF expression in the uterus and bone of rats. In this study, we investigated the relation between estrogens and VEGF production in growth plate chondrocytes both in vivo and in vitro. The expression of VEGF protein was down-regulated upon ovariectomy and was restored upon estradiol (E2) supplementation in rat growth plates. In cultured rat chondrocyte cell line RCJ3.1C5.18, E2 dose dependently stimulated 121 and 189 kDa isoforms of VEGF, but not the 164 kDa isoform. Finally, VEGF expression was observed at both protein and mRNA levels in human growth plate specimens. The protein level increased during pubertal development, supporting a link between estrogens and local VEGF production in the growth plate. We conclude that estrogens regulate VEGF expression in the epiphyseal growth plate, although the precise role of VEGF in estrogen-mediated growth plate fusion remains to be clarified.