Secretagogues and the somatotrope: Signaling and proliferation

L. A. Frohman*, R. D. Kineman, J. Kamegai, S. Park, L. T. Teixeira, K. T. Coschigano, J. J. Kopchick, K. Mayo, J. Hock, P. M. Conn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Somatotrope function requires consideration of both growth hormone (GH) secretion and cellular proliferation. The regulation of these processes is, to a large extent, controlled by three hypothalamic hormones: GH-releasing hormone (GHRH), somatostatin (SRIF), and an as-yet-unidentified GH secretagogne (GHS). Each binds to G protein-linked membrane receptors through which signaling occurs. Our laboratory has used a series of genetic and transgenic models with perturbations of individual components of the GH regulatory system to study both somatotrope signaling and proliferation. Impaired GHRH signaling is present in the lit mouse, which has a GHRH receptor (R) mutation, and the dw rat, which has a post-receptor signaling defect. Both models also have impaired responses to a GHS, implying an interaction between the two signaling systems. The spontaneous dwarf rat (SDR), in which a mutation of the GH gene results in total absence of the hormone, shows characteristic changes in the hypothalamic regulatory hormones due to an absence of GH feedback and alterations in the expression of each of their pituitary receptors. Treatment of SDRs with GHRH and a GHS has allowed demonstration of a stimulatory effect of GHRH on GHRH-R, GHS-R, and SRIF type 2 receptor (SSTR-2) expression and an inhibitory effect on SSTR-5 expression. GH also modifies the expression of these receptors, though its effects are seen at later time periods and appear to be indirect. Overall, the results indicate a complex regulation of GH secretion in which somatotrope receptor, as well as ligand expression, exerts an important physiological role. Both the SDR and the GH-R knockout (ko) mouse have small pituitaries and decreased somatotropes, despite elevated GHRH secretion and intact GHRH-R signaling. Introduction of the hGHRH transgene into GH-R ko mice confirmed that the proliferative effects of GHRH require GH/insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) action. The results offer new insights into factors participating in somatotrope proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-291
Number of pages23
JournalRecent Progress in Hormone Research
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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