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Growth hormone (GH) is known to regulate peripheral components of the hypothalamo-pituitary gonadal (HPG) axis, but it remains unclear whether GH exerts a significant influence on the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary components of the HPG axis. In this study, we investigated the development of HPG axis function in the male transgenic growth retarded (Tgr) rat, a model of moderate systemic GH deficiency caused by hypothalamic expression of human (h)GH. Impaired postnatal somatotroph expansion and moderate GH deficiency in male Tgr rats were accompanied by a two- to three-fold increase in pituitary gonadotrophin content, but without a significant change in the pituitary gonadotroph population. A three- to nine-fold elevation in basal circulating luteinising hormone concentration was seen in postpubertal Tgr rats, with a smaller increase in follicle-stimulating hormone. Despite this hypergonadotrophism, there was no corresponding increase in steroidogenic (circulating testosterone and seminal vesicle weights) or gametogenic (spermatozoa counts in seminiferous tubules) activity in the postpubertal Tgr testis. Following puberty, the plasma leptin concentration also became progressively elevated in Tgr males. Circulating gonadotrophin and leptin levels were normalised in Tgr rats by peripheral physiological replacement of rat GH, but plasma testosterone concentration was unaffected. These results confirm that hGH exerts a positive influence on the central control of gonadotrophin secretion in the Tgr rat, but the absence of a corresponding elevation in the steroidogenic or gametogenic function of the Tgr testis implies that the peripheral GH/insulin-like growth factor I axis may also exert a permissive influence on testicular function. The relative contribution of somatogenic and lactogenic mechanisms and the potential influence of elevated leptin and decreased sensitivity to androgen feedback to the development of postpubertal hypergonadotrophism in Tgr males remain to be determined.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neuroendocrinol

Publication Date





719 - 731


Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Gonadotropins, Hormones, Human Growth Hormone, Humans, Hypothalamus, Male, Microscopy, Electron, Pituitary Gland, Rats, Sperm Count, Testis