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J. Bíró, P. Eneroth, and E. M. Ritzén


Plasma concentrations of GH, TSH, tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) were measured in adult rats 2 and 4 weeks after ovariectomy and ovariohysterectomy. Two weeks after ovariohysterectomy, the concentration of GH was significantly higher, but TSH and T3 concentrations were significantly lower than in rats which had been ovariectomized only. Hysterectomy had no effect on plasma GH and TSH concentrations if it was performed 2 weeks after ovariectomy.

Plasma T3 had decreased by 2 weeks after ovariectomy but returned to pretreatment levels by 4 weeks. Recovery of the plasma T3 concentration was not observed if ovariectomy was followed by hysterectomy, since a further decrease of plasma T3 occurred. Plasma T4 was not significantly influenced either by ovariectomy or by ovariohysterectomy.

Steroid-free uterine extracts given i.p. to ovariohysterectomized rats reduced plasma GH within 24 h of injection.

Increases in plasma TSH, T3 and T4 were achieved in ovariohysterectomized rats with injections of uterine extracts (from intact, oestrogen-treated or castrated rats), but the increases were not consistent for the three hormones either as regards time after injection, nor for which particular extracts were effective.

It was concluded that the uterus may contain factors which influence the GH storage and secretion and TSH-thyroid regulation in rats.

J. Endocr. (1984) 101, 243–248

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J.-O. Jansson, J. Oscarsson, A. Mode, and E. M. Ritzén


The serum concentration of corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) is higher in female rats than in males. Combined hypophysectomy and gonadectomy of female rats reduced the serum concentration of CBG as measured by steady-state polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, whereas hypophysectomy of male rats increased serum CBG. These effects were seen despite replacement therapy with thyroxine and glucocorticoids. Moreover, neither androgen nor oestrogen treatment affected the serum concentrations of CBG in hypophysectomized rats. Continuous infusions of human or bovine GH (1·4 U/kg per day), by means of osmotic minipumps for 1 week, increased serum concentrations of CBG in both hypophysectomized male and female rats. In contrast, intermittent GH replacement therapy by s.c. injections at 12-h intervals either had no effect or suppressed serum CBG levels. In male rats, neonatal (days 1–2) gonadectomy increased CBG levels more than did prepubertal (day 25) gonadectomy, and testosterone replacement therapy reversed these effects.

It is concluded that GH increases the serum CBG levels of hypophysectomized rats when it is given in a continuous manner, but not when given intermittently. The sex difference in serum CBG levels of normal rats may, therefore, be attributed to the more continuous secretory pattern of GH previously observed in female rats.

Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 122, 725–732

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A S Chagin, D Chrysis, M Takigawa, E M Ritzen, and L Sävendahl

The importance of estrogens for the regulation of longitudinal bone growth is unequivocal. However, any local effect of estrogens in growth plate cartilage has been debated. Recently, several enzymes essential for estrogen synthesis were shown to be expressed in rat growth plate chondrocytes. Local production of 17β-estradiol (E2) has also been demonstrated in rat costal chondrocytes. We aimed to determine the functional role of locally produced estrogen in growth plate cartilage. The human chondrocyte-like cell line HCS-2/8 was used to study estrogen effects on cell proliferation (3H-labeled thymidine uptake) and apoptosis (cell death detection ELISA kit). Chondrocyte production of E2 was measured by RIA and organ cultures of fetal rat metatarsal bones were used to study the effects of estrogen on longitudinal growth rate. We found that significant amounts of E2 were produced by HCS-2/8 chondrocytes (64.1 ± 5.3 fmol/3 days/106cells). The aromatase inhibitor letrozole (1 μM) and the pure estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780 (10 μM) inhibited proliferation of HCS-2/8 chondrocytes by 20% (P<0.01) and almost 50% (P<0.001), respectively. Treatment with ICI 182,780 (10 μM) increased apoptosis by 228% (P<0.05). Co-treatment with either caspase-3 or pan-caspase inhibitors completely blocked ICI 182,780-induced apoptosis (P<0.001 vs ICI 182,780 only). Moreover, both ICI 182,780 (10 μM) and letrozole (1 μM) decreased longitudinal growth of fetal rat metatarsal bones after 7 days of culture (P<0.01). In conclusion, our data clearly show that chondrocytes endogenously produce E2 and that locally produced estrogen stimulates chondrocyte proliferation and protects from spontaneous apoptosis. In addition, longitudinal growth is promoted by estrogens locally produced within the epiphyseal growth plate.

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O Nilsson, D Chrysis, O Pajulo, A Boman, M Holst, J Rubinstein, E Martin Ritzen, and L Savendahl

Sex steroids are required for a normal pubertal growth spurt and fusion of the human epiphyseal growth plate. However, the localization of sex steroid receptors in the human pubertal growth plate remains controversial. We have investigated the expression of estrogen receptor (ER) alpha, ERbeta and androgen receptor (AR) in biopsies of proximal tibial growth plates obtained during epiphyseal surgery in 16 boys and eight girls. All pubertal stages were represented (Tanner stages 1-5). ERalpha, ERbeta and AR were visualized with immunohistochemistry and the number of receptor-positive cells was counted using an image analysis system. Percent receptor-positive chondrocytes were assessed in the resting, proliferative and hypertrophic zones and evaluated for sex differences and pubertal trends. Both ERalpha- and ERbeta-positive cells were detected at a greater frequency in the resting and proliferative zones than in the hypertrophic zone (64+/-2%, 64+/-2% compared with 38+/-3% for ERalpha, and 63+/-3%, 66+/-3% compared with 53+/-3% for ERbeta), whereas AR was more abundant in the resting (65+/-3%) and hypertrophic zones (58+/-3%) than in the proliferative zone (41+/-3%). No sex difference in the patterns of expression was detected. For ERalpha and AR, the percentage of receptor-positive cells was similar at all Tanner pubertal stages, whereas ERbeta showed a slight decrease in the proliferative zone during pubertal development (P<0.05). In summary, our findings suggest that ERalpha, ERbeta and AR are expressed in the human growth plate throughout pubertal development, with no difference between the sexes.