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Human growth hormone (hGH) and bovine neurophysin (bNP) DNA reporter fragments were inserted into the rat vasopressin (VP) and oxytocin (OT) genes in a 44 kb cosmid construct used to generate two lines of transgenic rats, termed JP17 and JP59. Both lines showed specific hGH expression in magnocellular VP cells in the hypothalamic paraventricular (PVN) and supraoptic nuclei (SON). hGH was also expressed in parvocellular neurones in suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), medial amygdala and habenular nuclei in JP17 rats; the rat OT-bNP (rOT-bNP) transgene was not expressed in either line. Immunohistochemistry and radioimmunoassay showed hGH protein in the hypothalamus from where it was transported in varicose fibres via the median eminence to the posterior pituitary gland. Immunogold electron microscopy showed hGH co-stored with VP-NP in the same granules. The VP-hGH transgene did not affect water balance, VP storage or release in vivo. Drinking 2 % saline for 72 h increased hypothalamic transgene hGH mRNA expression, and depleted posterior pituitary hGH and VP stores in parallel. In anaesthetised, water-loaded JP17 rats, hGH was released with VP in response to an acute hypovolumic stimulus (sodium nitrosopentacyano, 400 microg I.V.). JP17 rats had a reduced growth rate, lower anterior pituitary rGH contents, and a reduced amplitude of endogenous pulsatile rGH secretion assessed by automated blood microsampling in conscious rats, consistent with a short-loop feedback of the VP-hGH on the endogenous GH axis. This transgenic rat model enables us to study physiological regulation of hypothalamic transgene protein production, transport and secretion, as well as its effects on other neuroendocrine systems in vivo.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





323 - 336


Administration, Oral, Animals, Animals, Genetically Modified, Biological Assay, Brain, Cattle, Female, Gene Expression, Growth, Human Growth Hormone, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Male, Microscopy, Immunoelectron, Neurons, Neurophysins, Nitroso Compounds, Oxytocin, Pituitary Gland, Radioimmunoassay, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Sodium Chloride, Tissue Distribution, Transgenes, Vasopressins