The individual effects of GH and thyroxine (T4) on protein metabolism were determined in dwarf and normal mice in vivo. The hormone deficiencies of dwarf mice (low serum concentrations of GH and T4) resulted in decreased protein synthesis rates in skeletal muscle and liver, but no difference in synthesis rates in heart. The efficiency of synthesis (g protein/g RNA per day; KRNA) was lower in all three tissues in dwarf compared with normal mice, but effects on RNA concentration were not consistent; there was no change in muscle, a decrease in liver and an increase in heart.
Treatment of dwarf mice for 9 days with either human GH or T4 caused increases in body weight and length. Protein synthesis rates were increased in muscle, liver and heart by either hormone, though much more so with T4 than GH. In muscle and liver both GH and T4 treatment resulted in an increased RNA concentration, but T4 treatment also increased KRNA. In heart, both GH and T4 increased KRNA with no change in RNA concentration. GH caused no significant changes in protein degradation rates so that growth rates were increased. T4 increased degradation rates so that there was no increased net growth in muscle or liver; in heart, T4 did induce increased growth despite the large increase in degradation rate. Tibial length was increased by both hormones; GH treatment of dwarf mice also increased cartilage sulphate incorporation on day 9, but T4 treatment did not, suggesting that bone growth is transient with T4 treatment.
Normal mice showed no changes in growth or tissue protein metabolism in response to GH, but following T4 treatment there was increased protein turnover due to higher tissue RNA concentrations, although only heart growth was increased. Thus normal mice showed almost no net response to GH or T4, but dwarf mice showed a large response to both hormones. The response was different, however, in that GH caused concomitant increases in growth rates whereas T4 altered body tissue proportions.
J. Endocr. (1988) 119, 31–41