The effects of hypophysectomy on GH binding to liver membranes of young chicks were studied 3 days and 1 week after surgery. Specific binding of 125I-labelled chicken GH (cGH) to MgCl2-treated liver microsomal fractions of hypophysectomized animals was two- to fivefold greater than to those of sham-operated or control (non-operated) birds. This effect was due to a rise in binding capacity rather than a change in binding affinity of the GH receptor. Two daily injections of cGH (20 μg/animal) returned the number of hepatic GH receptors from hypophysectomized chicks to the level of the sham-operated ones. Administration of GH to the latter group did not cause a significant lowering of specific binding or number of receptors. No positive correlation between GH binding and plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) was observed; although GH binding increased, IGF-I levels were lower for the hypophysectomized group. Since the number of hepatic GH receptors and the plasma GH levels were inversely correlated, it was concluded that the GH receptors in the liver of the chicken can be down-regulated by GH. This possibly explains why GH binding is low in posthatch and young chicks, because circulating GH concentrations are high during this period.
Journal of Endocrinology (1991) 129, 275–281