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Bronwen A J Evans, Melanie J Bull, Rebecca C Kench, Rebecca E Fox, Liam D Morgan, Amy E Stevenson, Evelien F Gevers, Mark J Perry and Timothy Wells

The relationship between the degree of GH deficiency and impaired bone integrity is not simple and may be influenced by related endocrine variables. To test the hypothesis that elevated adiposity and hyperleptinaemia are contributory factors, we quantified femoral trabecular organisation in two models of GH deficiency with divergent degrees of adiposity – the moderately GH-deficient/hyperleptinaemic transgenic growth retarded (Tgr) rat and the profoundly GH-deficient/hypoleptinaemic dw/dw rat. Trabecular density (bone volume/total volume) and surface were reduced by 16% in dw/dw males, with a more fragmented trabecular lattice. This impairment was more pronounced in Tgr rats, with trabecular number and density further reduced (by an additional 21%) and relative surface (bone surface/bone volume), trabecular convexity (structural modal index) and fragmentation (pattern factor) increased. To establish whether the presence of obesity/hyperleptinaemia exacerbates bone impairment in GH deficiency, trabecular structure was assessed in dw/dw rats following diet-induced obesity (DIO). DIO had minimal effect on trabecular architecture, the increased concavity of trabecular surfaces being the only observable effect. Similarly, infusion of leptin into the tibial bone marrow cavity had no effect on trabecular organisation or tibial growth in wild-type rats. However, while this procedure also failed to affect trabecular architecture or osteoclast number in dw/dw rats, distal osteoblast surface was increased by 23%, marrow adipocyte number and epiphyseal plate width being reduced (by 40 and 5% respectively), without increasing caspase-3 immunoreactivity. These findings suggest that while leptin may directly inhibit adipocyte differentiation and favour osteoblast production, hyperleptinaemia makes only a minimal contribution to the impairment of bone structure in GH deficiency.

Open access

David M Golding, Daniel J Rees, Jennifer R Davies, Dinko Relkovic, Hannah V Furby, Irina A Guschina, Anna L Hopkins, Jeffrey S Davies, James L Resnick, Anthony R Isles and Timothy Wells

Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS), a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by loss of paternal gene expression from 15q11–q13, is characterised by growth retardation, hyperphagia and obesity. However, as single gene mutation mouse models for this condition display an incomplete spectrum of the PWS phenotype, we have characterised the metabolic impairment in a mouse model for ‘full’ PWS, in which deletion of the imprinting centre (IC) abolishes paternal gene expression from the entire PWS cluster. We show that PWS-ICdel mice displayed postnatal growth retardation, with reduced body weight, hyperghrelinaemia and marked abdominal leanness; proportionate retroperitoneal, epididymal/omental and inguinal white adipose tissue (WAT) weights being reduced by 82%, 84% and 67%, respectively. PWS-ICdel mice also displayed a 48% reduction in proportionate interscapular brown adipose tissue (isBAT) weight with significant ‘beiging’ of abdominal WAT, and a 2°C increase in interscapular surface body temperature. Maintenance of PWS-ICdel mice under thermoneutral conditions (30°C) suppressed the thermogenic activity in PWS-ICdel males, but failed to elevate the abdominal WAT weight, possibly due to a normalisation of caloric intake. Interestingly, PWS-ICdel mice also showed exaggerated food hoarding behaviour with standard and high-fat diets, but despite becoming hyperphagic when switched to a high-fat diet, PWS-ICdel mice failed to gain weight. This evidence indicates that, unlike humans with PWS, loss of paternal gene expression from the PWS cluster in mice results in abdominal leanness. Although reduced subcutaneous insulation may lead to exaggerated heat loss and thermogenesis, abdominal leanness is likely to arise from a reduced lipid storage capacity rather than increased energy utilisation in BAT.

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Thomas M Braxton, Dionne E A Sarpong, Janine L Dovey, Anne Guillou, Bronwen A J Evans, Juan M Castellano, Bethany E Keenan, Saja Baraghithy, Sam L Evans, Manuel Tena-Sempere, Patrice Mollard, Joseph Tam and Timothy Wells

Human Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is characterised by impairments of multiple systems including the growth hormone (GH) axis and skeletal growth. To address our lack of knowledge of the influence of PWS on skeletal integrity in mice, we have characterised the endocrine and skeletal phenotype of the PWS-ICdel mouse model for ‘full’ PWS and determined the impact of thermoneutrality. Tibial length, epiphyseal plate width and marrow adiposity were reduced by 6, 18 and 79% in male PWS-ICdel mice, with osteoclast density being unaffected. Similar reductions in femoral length accompanied a 32% reduction in mid-diaphyseal cortical diameter. Distal femoral Tb.N was reduced by 62%, with individual trabeculae being less plate-like and the lattice being more fragmented (Tb.Pf increased by 63%). Cortical strength (ultimate moment) was reduced by 26% as a result of reductions in calcified tissue strength and the geometric contribution. GH and prolactin contents in PWS-ICdel pituitaries were reduced in proportion to their smaller pituitary size, with circulating IGF-1 concentration reduced by 37–47%. Conversely, while pituitary luteinising hormone content was halved, circulating gonadotropin concentrations were unaffected. Although longitudinal growth, marrow adiposity and femoral geometry were unaffected by thermoneutrality, strengthened calcified tissue reversed the weakened cortex of PWS-ICdel femora. While underactivity of the GH axis may be due to loss of Snord116 expression and impaired limb bone geometry and strength due to loss of Magel2 expression, comprehensive analysis of skeletal integrity in the single gene deletion models is required. Our data imply that thermoneutrality may ameliorate the elevated fracture risk associated with PWS.