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R Barnard and M J Waters


Since Ymer & Herington (1985) refocused attention on the serum growth hormone (GH) binding protein (GHBP), it has attracted considerable research effort. Despite this, much remains to be resolved regarding its physiological function(s) and its regulation (which provides clues to function). The presence of a high affinity GHBP has significant implications for understanding the growth process, for understanding maternal control of foetal development and for attempts to enhance growth using genetically engineered GH analogues. To date, these implications have not been adequately explored.

Although there is evidence for a low affinity high capacity GHBP (Baumann & Shaw 1990), the present review will focus on the high affinity GHBP. It will summarize what is known regarding distribution, regulation and suggested roles of the high affinity GHBP. Evidence that GHBP has a significant role in the endocrinology of pregnancy and control of foetal growth will be discussed. Since progress in GHBP

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R. Barnard, P. Quirk and M. J. Waters


A panel of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) reactive with distinct epitopes on the rabbit liver GH receptor and rabbit serum GH-binding protein (GHBP) were tested for cross-reactivity with the GHBP from human serum. Four of seven MAbs reacted with the human serum GHBP. Immunoprecipitation of the human binding protein enabled hormonal specificity identical to that previously reported for human GH receptors to be demonstrated. Scatchard analyses of 125I-labelled human GH binding to the serum GHBP were carried out with correction made for endogenous human GH which was measured by radioimmunoassay of each serum sample. This approach yielded the first reliable estimates of the affinity and capacity of the human GHBP. The binding capacity (mean ± s.e.m.) of female sera (804±126 pmol/l; n= 6) was greater than that of male sera (505 ± 36 pmol/l; n=9; P < 0·02). The affinity of the GHBP was 0·91 ±0·10 litres/nmol (n= 15).

The presence of multiple epitopes common to the human serum GHBP and the rabbit liver GH receptor is consistent with identity between the extracellular domains of the human GHBP and the human GH receptor, as is the case for the rabbit GHBP and GH receptor.

Journal of Endocrinology (1989) 123, 327–332

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M Yamaguchi, L Ogren, R Barnard, T Imai, T Sawada, A Miyake and F Talamantes


The placental members of the prolactin-GH-placental lactogen (PL) gene family of the mouse include mPL-I, mPL-II, proliferin (PLF) and proliferin-related protein (PRP). The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) on the secretion of these proteins in primary cultures of placental cells from days 7, 9 and 12 of pregnancy. The effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) on the secretion of PLF and PRP were also determined. EGF has previously been shown to stimulate mPL-I and inhibit mPL-II secretion. Incubation of placental cells from day 7 of pregnancy for 5 days with 10 nmol human (h)TNF-α/1 did not affect the mPL-II concentration of the medium, but similar treatment of cells from days 9 or 12 of pregnancy resulted in a significant reduction in the mPL-II concentration of the medium by the second or third day of culture. The intracellular concentration of mPL-II, the number of cells that released mPL-II as assessed by reverse haemolytic plaque assay, and steady-state levels of mPL-II mRNA as assessed by Northern analysis were also reduced by hTNF-α treatment. The lowest concentration of hTNF-α that significantly inhibited mPL-II secretion by cells from day 12 of pregnancy was 0·01 nmol/l. hTNF-α treatment did not affect the secretion of mPL-I, PLF or PRP, as assessed by the concentrations of these proteins in the medium during a 5-day incubation. Incubation of the cells with 20 ng EGF/ml also did not affect the PLF or PRP concentration of the medium during 5 days of culture. To determine whether the effect of hTNF-α on mPL-II secretion was mediated by interleukin-6 (IL-6), the IL-6 concentration of the medium of control and hTNF-α-treated cells was determined. Bioactive and immuno-reactive IL-6 could not be detected in medium from either treatment group. The presence of binding sites for hTNF-α was assessed in cells from day 12 of pregnancy. Scatchard analysis detected a single class of binding sites having a Kd of 1·61±0·34 nmol/l, with about 1350 sites per cell. The results of this study demonstrate that hTNF-α inhibits the secretion of mPL-II by placental cells from days 9 and 12 of pregnancy, suggesting that TNF-α may be one of the factors that regulate the production of this hormone in vivo.

Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 143, 95–105

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SM Woodall, BH Breier, BM Johnston, NS Bassett, R Barnard and PD Gluckman

Increasing evidence from human epidemiological studies suggests that poor growth before birth is associated with postnatal growth retardation and the development of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. We have shown previously that nutritional deprivation in the pregnant rat leads to intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), postnatal growth failure, changes in the endocrine parameters of the somatotrophic axis, and to increased blood pressure in later life. In the present study, we investigated whether administration of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) or bovine growth hormone (GH) during pregnancy could prevent IUGR and/or alter long-term outcome. Dams from day 1 of pregnancy throughout gestation received a diet of ad libitum available food or a restricted dietary intake of 30% of ad libitum fed dams. From day 10 of gestation, dams were treated for 10 days with three times daily subcutaneous injections of saline (100 microl), IGF-I (2 micrograms/g body weight) or GH (2 micrograms/g body weight). Maternal weight gain was significantly increased (P<0.001) in ad libitum fed dams treated with GH, (98.9+/-4.73 g) compared with the IGF-I (80.5+/-2.17 g) and saline-treated (70.7+/-2.65 g) groups. There was a small increase in maternal weight gain (P<0.06) in 30% ad libitum fed dams following GH (16.3+/-2.47 g) and IGF-I (15.8+/-1.97 g) treatment compared with saline (9.2+/-1.96 g). Whole spleen, kidney and carcass weights were significantly (P<0.05) increased in ad libitum fed and 30% ad libitum fed dams with GH treatment. Circulating IGF-I was significantly increased (P<0.001) in ad libitum fed dams with both IGF-I (369.6+/-32.33 ng/ml) and GH (457.9+/-33.32 ng/ml) compared with saline treatment (211.7+/-14.02 ng/ml), and with GH (223.4+/-23.72 ng/ml) compared with saline treatment (112.0+/-7.33 ng/ml) in 30% ad libitum fed dams. Circulating GH binding protein (GHBP) levels were significantly reduced (P<0.05) in GH-treated (299.1+/-51.54 ng/ml) compared with saline-treated (503.9+/-62.43 ng/ml) ad libitum fed dams, but were not altered in 30% ad libitum fed dams. There was no significant effect of either IGF-I or GH treatment on fetal weight, placental weight, fetal organ weights or circulating IGF-I levels in both ad libitum fed and 30% ad libitum fed fetuses. Offspring of 30% ad libitum fed dams remained significantly growth retarded postnatally and showed elevated blood pressure in later life. The increased maternal weight gain following IGF-I or GH administration, without an effect on fetal and placental weights, suggests a modification in the mode of maternal nutrient repartitioning during mid to late pregnancy at the expense of the fetus.

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R Barnard, G Thordarson, M F Lopez, M Yamaguchi, A Edens, S D Cramer, L Ogren and F Talamantes


GH-binding protein (GHBP) or GH receptor is present in numerous extrahepatic tissues in the rodent. From mid- to late gestation in the mouse, the maternal serum concentration of GHBP increases 30- to 50-fold. We have investigated whether the placenta might synthesize GHBP and potentially contribute to this increase. RNA was isolated from placentas and subjected to Northern analysis using a cDNA probe to the shared region of GHBP and GH receptor-encoding mRNAs. From day 8 to day 18 of gestation, the GHBP-encoding mRNA (1·4 kb) increased 45-fold in quantity. The GH receptor-encoding mRNA (4·2 kb) increased sixfold by day 14 and then remained steady until day 18. These changes which were not co-ordinated parallel reported changes in the steady-state concentrations of 1·4 and 4·2 kb mRNAs in maternal liver, suggesting shared regulatory factors. Extracts of freshly isolated trophoblasts were assayed for GHBP with a radioimmunoassay specific for GHBP with a hydrophilic carboxyl terminus. The cytosolic content of immunoreactive GHBP increased fourfold from mid- to late gestation. Trophoblasts were isolated from placentas and cultured for 2 days on collagen gels in defined medium. Cultured cells were at least 90% viable and secreted mouse placental lactogen-II (mPL-II). Immunocytochemistry was carried out simultaneously on cells cultured from day 7 to day 17 of gestation using a monoclonal antibody (MAb 4·3), which recognizes the hydrophilic C-terminus of GHBP. Cell-localized GHBP was present in trophoblasts cultured for 2 days, but GHBP was not detectable by radioimmunoassay or by immunoprecipitation in concentrated culture media from cultures treated with 100 ng mouse GH/ml or 100 ng mPL-II/ml or from untreated cultures. RNA was isolated from cells cultured in an identical manner to those analysed by immunocytochemistry. Three GH receptor/GHBP mRNA species of 8, 4·2 and 1·4 kb were observed. The quantity of 4·2 and 1·4 kb mRNAs did not change significantly in cultures from day 7 to day 15 of gestation but, in cultures from day 17 of gestation, the amount of 1·4 kb mRNA dropped significantly, while that of the 4·2 kb mRNA remained unchanged. GHBP- and GH receptor-encoding mRNAs are not co-ordinately regulated in vivo or in vitro. Although mPL-II was secreted into the medium by cultured trophoblasts, secretion of GHBP could not be detected. The culture medium may not contain the specific factors required for secretion of placental GHBP, or placental GHBP may not be destined for secretion.

The results show that GHBP (as distinct from GH receptor) is expressed by the placenta in vivo and trophoblasts in vitro. From mid-gestation onwards, GHBP mRNA increases dramatically in vivo and the cytosolic content of GHBP in freshly isolated trophoblasts increases. This suggests an important local regulatory role for placental GHBP during gestation.

Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 140, 125–135

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Ashley Gray, William J Aronson, R James Barnard, Hemal Mehta, Junxiang Wan, Jonathan Said, Pinchas Cohen and Colette Galet

Circulating insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (IGFBP1) levels vary in response to nutritional status, and pre-clinical studies suggest that elevated IGFBP1 may be protective against the development and progression of prostate cancer. We hypothesized that global deletion of Igfbp1 would accelerate the development of prostate cancer in a c-Myc transgenic mouse model. To test our hypothesis, c-Myc transgenic mice (Myc/BP-1 wild-type (WT)) were crossed and interbred with the Igfbp1 knockout mice (Myc/BP-1 KO). The animals were placed on a high-protein diet at weaning, weighed every 2 weeks, and euthanized at 16 weeks of age. Prostate histopathology was assessed and proliferation status was determined by Ki-67 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen analyses. IGF-related serum biomarkers and body composition were measured. No significant difference in the incidence of prostate cancer was observed between the Myc/BP-1 KO and the Myc/BP-1 WT mice (65 and 80% respectively, P=0.48). Proliferation was significantly decreased by 71% in prostate tissue of Myc/BP-1 KO mice compared with Myc/BP-1 WT mice. Myc/BP-1 KO mice exhibited a significant 6.7% increase in body weight relative to the Myc/BP-1 WT mice that was attributed to an increase in fat mass. Fasting insulin levels were higher in the Myc/BP-1 KO mice without any difference between the groups in fasting glucose concentrations. Thus, contrary to our hypothesis, global deletion of Igfbp1 in a c-Myc transgenic mouse model did not accelerate the development of prostate cancer. Global Igfbp1 deletion did result in a significant increase in body weight and body fat mass. Further studies are required to understand the underlying mechanisms for these metabolic effects.