The new mutant GH-deficient dwarf (Dw) rat was used to study the effects of GH-releasing factor (GRF) or somatostatin (SRIF) on GH release. In anaesthetized adult Dw female rats, i.v. injections of GRF (0·031–2·0μg) elicited a dose-dependent release of GH. Although the peak plasma GH responses to maximal GRF doses were much lower in adult Dw rats compared with normal rats of this strain (AS), the responses largely reflected their relative pituitary GH contents (140±17 μg vs 2·9±0·4 μg, AS vs Dw (means ± s.e.m.), P < 0·001). Except at 20 days of age, normal AS rats were more sensitive to GRF than Dw rats despite their larger body weight. Peak GH responses to injection of 31·25 ng GRF increased nine-fold in normal rats between 20 and 40 days, whereas the GH responses to this GRF dose diminished in Dw rats over this age range, and their pituitary GH content was only 2–5% of that of age-matched AS rats. Treatment with human GH (200 μg/day for 7 days) stimulated growth in 40-day-old Dw rats and slightly increased the GH response to a low dose of GRF. Basal GH levels in adult Dw animals were sevenfold lower than in AS rats (2·4±0·3 vs 17·6±3·3 μg/l P < 0·001) and were further suppressed by i.v. infusion of SRIF (25 μg/h). As in normal rats, a rebound GH secretion occurred in Dw rats after stopping SRIF, which was blocked by injection of anti-GRF serum. The disappearance rate of 125I-labelled rat GH from plasma was identical in AS and Dw rats. We conclude that dwarf rats show GH deficiency as early as 20 days of age; they respond to GRF, but release only small amounts of GH due to their reduced pituitary GH content. Although basal GH release is reduced in Dw rats, the levels are higher than would be expected from the 50-fold reduction in pituitary stores, and may reflect a chronic reduction in SRIF and/or increase in GRF release induced by prolonged GH deficiency in the Dw rat.
Journal of Endocrinology (1990) 127, 69–75