Catch-up growth (CUG) in childhood is defined as periods of growth acceleration, after the resolution of growth attenuation causes, bringing the children back to their original growth trajectory. Sometimes, however, CUG is incomplete, leading to permanent growth deficit and short stature. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms that limit nutritional-CUG. Specifically, we focused on the crosstalk between leptin, increased by re-feeding, and sex hormones, which increase with age. In vivo studies were performed in young male Sprague Dawley rats fed ad libitum or subjected to 10/36 days of 40% food restriction followed by 90–120 days of re-feeding. In vitro studies were performed on ATDC5 cells. Analyses of mRNA and protein levels were done using qPCR and Western blot, respectively. CUG was complete in body weight and humerus length in animals that were food-restricted for 10 days but not for those food-restricted for 36 days. In vitro studies showed that leptin significantly increased aromatase gene expression and protein level as well as the expression of estrogen and leptin receptors in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The effect of leptin on aromatase was direct and was mediated through the MAPK/Erk, STAT3 and PI3K pathways. The crosstalk between leptin and aromatase in the growth plate suggests that re-feeding during puberty may lead to increased estrogen level and activity, and consequently, irreversible premature epiphyseal growth plate closure. These results may have important implications for the development of novel treatment strategies for short stature in children.
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Majdi Masarwi, Raanan Shamir, Moshe Phillip, and Galia Gat-Yablonski
Rakefet Pando, Majdi Masarwi, Biana Shtaif, Anna Idelevich, Efrat Monsonego-Ornan, Ron Shahar, Moshe Phillip, and Galia Gat-Yablonski
Growth stunting constitutes the most common effect of malnutrition. When the primary cause of malnutrition is resolved, catch-up (CU) growth usually occurs. In this study, we have explored the effect of food restriction (RES) and refeeding on bone structure and mechanical properties. Sprague–Dawley male rats aged 24 days were subjected to 10 days of 40% RES, followed by refeeding for 1 (CU) or 26 days long-term CU (LTCU). The rats fed ad libitum served as controls. The growth plates were measured, osteoclasts were identified using tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase staining, and micro-computed tomography (CT) scanning and mechanical testing were used to study structure and mechanical properties. Micro-CT analysis showed that RES led to a significant reduction in trabecular BV/TV and trabecular number (Tb.N), concomitant with an increase in trabecular separation (Tb.Sp). Trabecular BV/TV and Tb.N were significantly greater in the CU group than in the RES in both short- and long-term experiments. Mechanical testing showed that RES led to weaker and less compliant bones; interestingly, bones of the CU group were also more fragile after 1 day of CU. Longer term of refeeding enabled correction of the bone parameters; however, LTCU did not achieve full recovery. These results suggest that RES in young rats attenuated growth and reduced trabecular bone parameters. While nutrition-induced CU growth led to an immediate increase in epiphyseal growth plate height and active bone modeling, it was also associated with a transient reduction in bone quality. This should be taken into consideration when treating children undergoing CU growth.