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1.  Brain IGF-1 Receptors Control Mammalian Growth and Lifespan through a Neuroendocrine Mechanism 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(10):e254.
Mutations that decrease insulin-like growth factor (IGF) and growth hormone signaling limit body size and prolong lifespan in mice. In vertebrates, these somatotropic hormones are controlled by the neuroendocrine brain. Hormone-like regulations discovered in nematodes and flies suggest that IGF signals in the nervous system can determine lifespan, but it is unknown whether this applies to higher organisms. Using conditional mutagenesis in the mouse, we show that brain IGF receptors (IGF-1R) efficiently regulate somatotropic development. Partial inactivation of IGF-1R in the embryonic brain selectively inhibited GH and IGF-I pathways after birth. This caused growth retardation, smaller adult size, and metabolic alterations, and led to delayed mortality and longer mean lifespan. Thus, early changes in neuroendocrine development can durably modify the life trajectory in mammals. The underlying mechanism appears to be an adaptive plasticity of somatotropic functions allowing individuals to decelerate growth and preserve resources, and thereby improve fitness in challenging environments. Our results also suggest that tonic somatotropic signaling entails the risk of shortened lifespan.
Author Summary
Using a mouse model relevant for humans, we showed that lifespan can be significantly extended by reducing the signaling selectively of a protein called IGF-I in the central nervous system. This effect occurred through changes in specific neuroendocrine pathways. Dissecting the pathophysiological mechanism, we discovered that IGF receptors in the mammalian brain efficiently steered the development of the somatotropic axis, which in turn affected the individual growth trajectory and lifespan. Our work confirms experimentally that continuously low IGF-I and low growth hormone levels favor extended lifespan and postpone age-related mortality. Together with other recent reports, our results further challenge the view that administration of GH can prevent, or even counteract human aging. This knowledge is important since growth hormone is often prescribed to elderly people in an attempt to compensate the unwanted effects of aging. Growth hormone and IGF-I are also substances frequently used for doping in sports.
Inactivating IGF receptors in the brain decreased growth hormone and IGF-I, and increased lifespan in healthy mice. Such neuroendocrine longevity could be a physiological response to environment.
PMCID: PMC2573928  PMID: 18959478
2.  Mouse models of growth hormone action and aging: A proteomic perspective 
Proteomics  2012;13(0):674-685.
Growth hormone (GH) is a protein secreted by the anterior pituitary and circulates throughout the body to exert important actions on growth and metabolism. GH stimulates the secretion of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) which mediates some of the growth promoting actions of GH. The GH/IGF-I axis has recently been recognized as important in terms of longevity in organisms ranging from C. elegans to mice. For example, GH transgenic mice possess short lifespans while GH receptor null (GHR−/−) mice have extended longevity. Thus, the actions of GH (or IGF-I) or lack thereof impacts the aging process. In this review, we summarize the proteomic analyses of plasma and white adipose tissue in these two mouse models of GH action, i.e., GH transgenic and GHR−/− mice. At the protein level, we wanted to establish novel plasma biomarkers of GH action as a function of age and to determine differences in adipose tissue depots. We have shown that these proteomic approaches have not only confirmed several known physiological actions of GH, but also resulted in novel protein biomarkers and targets that may be indicative of the aging process and/or new functions of GH. These results may generate new directions for GH and/or aging research.
PMCID: PMC3756660  PMID: 23019135
3.  The Growth Hormone Receptor Gene-Disrupted (GHR-KO) Mouse Fails to Respond to an Intermittent Fasting (IF) Diet 
Aging cell  2009;8(6):756-760.
The interaction of longevity-conferring genes with longevity-conferring diets is poorly understood. The growth hormone receptor gene-disrupted (GHR-KO) mouse is long-lived; and this longevity is not responsive to 30% caloric restriction (CR), in contrast to wild-type animals from the same strain. To determine whether this may have been limited to a particular level of dietary restriction (DR), we subjected GHR-KO mice to a different dietary restriction regimen, an intermittent fasting (IF) diet.
The IF diet increased the survivorship and improved insulin sensitivity of normal males, but failed to affect either parameter in GHR-KO mice.
From the results of two paradigms of dietary restriction we postulate that GHR-KO mice would be resistant to any manner of DR; potentially due to their inability to further enhance insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity may be a mechanism and/or a marker of the lifespan-extending potential of an intervention.
PMCID: PMC2783987  PMID: 19747233
aging; longevity; caloric restriction; intermittent fasting; growth hormone; insulin sensitivity
4.  TNF-α downregulates murine hepatic growth hormone receptor expression by inhibiting Sp1 and Sp3 binding 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2001;107(11):1451-1458.
Children with chronic inflammatory diseases experience growth failure and wasting. This may be due to growth hormone resistance caused by cytokine-induced suppression of growth hormone receptor (GHR) gene expression. However, the factors governing inflammatory regulation of GHR are not known. We have reported that Sp1 and Sp3 regulate hepatic GHR expression. We hypothesized that TNF-α suppresses GHR expression by inhibiting Sp1/Sp3 transactivators. LPS administration significantly reduced murine hepatic GHR expression, as well as Sp1 and Sp3 binding to GHR promoter cis elements. TNF-α was integral to this response, as LPS did not affect hepatic Sp1/Sp3 binding or GHR expression in TNF receptor 1–deficient mice. TNF-α treatment of BNL CL.2 mouse liver cells reduced Sp1 and Sp3 binding to a GHR promoter cis element and downregulated activity of a GHR promoter-driven luciferase reporter. Combined mutations within adjacent Sp elements eliminated GHR promoter suppression by TNF-α without affecting overall nuclear levels of Sp1 or Sp3 proteins. These studies demonstrate that murine GHR transcription is downregulated by LPS, primarily via TNF-α–dependent signaling. Evidence suggests that inhibition of Sp transactivator binding is involved. Further investigation of these mechanisms may identify novel strategies for preventing inflammatory suppression of growth.
PMCID: PMC209317  PMID: 11390427
5.  Age- and Sex-Associated Plasma Proteomic Changes in Growth Hormone Receptor Gene–Disrupted Mice 
Growth hormone receptor gene–disrupted (GHR−/−) mice are dwarf, insulin sensitive, and long lived despite being obese. In order to identify characteristics associated with their increased longevity, we studied age-related plasma proteomic changes in these mice. Male and female GHR−/− mice and their littermate controls were followed longitudinally at 8, 16, and 24 months of ages for plasma proteomic analysis. Relative to control littermates, GHR−/− mice had increased levels of apolipoprotein A-4 and retinol-binding protein-4 and decreased levels of apolipoprotein E, haptoglobin, and mannose-binding protein-C. Female GHR−/− mice showed decreased inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-1β and monocyte chemotactic protein-1. Additionally, sex differences were found in specific isoforms of apolipoprotein E, RBP-4, haptoglobin, albumin, and hemoglobin subunit beta. In conclusion, we find plasma proteomic changes in GHR−/− mice that favor a longer life span as well as sex differences indicative of an improved health span in female mice.
PMCID: PMC3403865  PMID: 22156438
Growth hormone receptor; Plasma; Proteomics; Sex; Aging
6.  Metabolic characteristics of long-lived mice 
Frontiers in Genetics  2012;3:288.
Genetic suppression of insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) can extend longevity in worms, insects, and mammals. In laboratory mice, mutations with the greatest, most consistent, and best documented positive impact on lifespan are those that disrupt growth hormone (GH) release or actions. These mutations lead to major alterations in IIS but also have a variety of effects that are not directly related to the actions of insulin or insulin-like growth factor I. Long-lived GH-resistant GHR-KO mice with targeted disruption of the GH receptor gene, as well as Ames dwarf (Prop1df) and Snell dwarf (Pit1dw) mice lacking GH (along with prolactin and TSH), are diminutive in size and have major alterations in body composition and metabolic parameters including increased subcutaneous adiposity, increased relative brain weight, small liver, hypoinsulinemia, mild hypoglycemia, increased adiponectin levels and insulin sensitivity, and reduced serum lipids. Body temperature is reduced in Ames, Snell, and female GHR-KO mice. Indirect calorimetry revealed that both Ames dwarf and GHR-KO mice utilize more oxygen per gram (g) of body weight than sex- and age-matched normal animals from the same strain. They also have reduced respiratory quotient, implying greater reliance on fats, as opposed to carbohydrates, as an energy source. Differences in oxygen consumption (VO2) were seen in animals fed or fasted during the measurements as well as in animals that had been exposed to 30% calorie restriction or every-other-day feeding. However, at the thermoneutral temperature of 30°C, VO2 did not differ between GHR-KO and normal mice. Thus, the increased metabolic rate of the GHR-KO mice, at a standard animal room temperature of 23°C, is apparently related to increased energy demands for thermoregulation in these diminutive animals. We suspect that increased oxidative metabolism combined with enhanced fatty acid oxidation contribute to the extended longevity of GHR-KO mice.
PMCID: PMC3521393  PMID: 23248643
growth hormone; aging; calorie restriction; dwarf mice; metabolism
7.  Acute Physiological Stress Down-Regulates mRNA Expressions of Growth-Related Genes in Coho Salmon 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71421.
Growth and development in fish are regulated to a major extent by growth-related factors, such as liver-derived insulin-like growth factor (IGF) -1 in response to pituitary-secreted growth hormone (GH) binding to the GH receptor (GHR). Here, we report on the changes in the expressions of gh, ghr, and igf1 genes and the circulating levels of GH and IGF-1 proteins in juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in response to handling as an acute physiological stressor. Plasma GH levels were not significantly different between stressed fish and prestressed control. Plasma IGF-1 concentrations in stressed fish 1.5 h post-stress were the same as in control fish, but levels in stressed fish decreased significantly 16 h post-stress. Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis showed that ghr mRNA levels in pituitary, liver, and muscle decreased gradually in response to the stressor. After exposure to stress, hepatic igf1 expression transiently increased, whereas levels decreased 16 h post-stress. On the other hand, the pituitary gh mRNA level did not change in response to the stressor. These observations indicate that expression of gh, ghr, and igf1 responded differently to stress. Our results show that acute physiological stress can mainly down-regulate the expressions of growth-related genes in coho salmon in vivo. This study also suggests that a relationship between the neuroendocrine stress response and growth-related factors exists in fish.
PMCID: PMC3747168  PMID: 23990952
8.  In Vivo Analysis of Growth Hormone Receptor Signaling Domains and Their Associated Transcripts 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(1):66-77.
The growth hormone receptor (GHR) is a critical regulator of postnatal growth and metabolism. However, the GHR signaling domains and pathways that regulate these processes in vivo are not defined. We report the first knock-in mouse models with deletions of specific domains of the receptor that are required for its in vivo actions. Mice expressing truncations at residue m569 (plus Y539/545-F) and at residue m391 displayed a progressive impairment of postnatal growth with receptor truncation. Moreover, after 4 months of age, marked male obesity was observed in both mutant 569 and mutant 391 and was associated with hyperglycemia. Both mutants activated hepatic JAK2 and ERK2, whereas STAT5 phosphorylation was substantially decreased for mutant 569 and absent from mutant 391, correlating with loss of IGF-1 expression and reduction in growth. Microarray analysis of these and GHR−/− mice demonstrated that particular signaling domains are responsible for the regulation of different target genes and revealed novel actions of growth hormone. These mice represent the first step in delineating the domains of the GHR regulating body growth and composition and the transcripts associated with these domains.
PMCID: PMC538772  PMID: 15601831
9.  Reduced Incidence and Delayed Occurrence of Fatal Neoplastic Diseases in Growth Hormone Receptor/Binding Protein Knockout Mice 
Although studies of Ames and Snell dwarf mice have suggested possible important roles of the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) axis in aging and age-related diseases, the results cannot rule out the possibility of other hormonal changes playing an important role in the life extension exhibited by these dwarf mice. Therefore, growth hormone receptor/binding protein (GHR/BP) knockout (KO) mice would be valuable animals to directly assess the roles of somatotropic axis in aging and age-related diseases because the primary hormonal change is due to GH/IGF-1 deficiency. Our pathological findings showed GHR/BP KO mice to have a lower incidence and delayed occurrence of fatal neoplastic lesions compared with their wild-type littermates. These changes of fatal neoplasms are similar to the effects observed with calorie restriction and therefore could possibly be a major contributing factor to the extended life span observed in the GHR/BP KO mice.
PMCID: PMC2667132  PMID: 19228785
Growth hormone receptor/binding protein; Knockout mouse; Neoplastic disease; Aging
10.  Distinct growth hormone receptor signaling modes regulate skeletal muscle development and insulin sensitivity in mice 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(11):4007-4020.
Skeletal muscle development, nutrient uptake, and nutrient utilization is largely coordinated by growth hormone (GH) and its downstream effectors, in particular, IGF-1. However, it is not clear which effects of GH on skeletal muscle are direct and which are secondary to GH-induced IGF-1 expression. Thus, we generated mice lacking either GH receptor (GHR) or IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) specifically in skeletal muscle. Both exhibited impaired skeletal muscle development characterized by reductions in myofiber number and area as well as accompanying deficiencies in functional performance. Defective skeletal muscle development, in both GHR and IGF-1R mutants, was attributable to diminished myoblast fusion and associated with compromised nuclear factor of activated T cells import and activity. Strikingly, mice lacking GHR developed metabolic features that were not observed in the IGF-1R mutants, including marked peripheral adiposity, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance. Insulin resistance in GHR-deficient myotubes derived from reduced IR protein abundance and increased inhibitory phosphorylation of IRS-1 on Ser 1101. These results identify distinct signaling pathways through which GHR regulates skeletal muscle development and modulates nutrient metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2964973  PMID: 20921627
11.  Growth hormone-releasing hormone disruption extends lifespan and regulates response to caloric restriction in mice 
eLife  2013;2:e01098.
We examine the impact of targeted disruption of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) in mice on longevity and the putative mechanisms of delayed aging. GHRH knockout mice are remarkably long-lived, exhibiting major shifts in the expression of genes related to xenobiotic detoxification, stress resistance, and insulin signaling. These mutant mice also have increased adiponectin levels and alterations in glucose homeostasis consistent with the removal of the counter-insulin effects of growth hormone. While these effects overlap with those of caloric restriction, we show that the effects of caloric restriction (CR) and the GHRH mutation are additive, with lifespan of GHRH-KO mutants further increased by CR. We conclude that GHRH-KO mice feature perturbations in a network of signaling pathways related to stress resistance, metabolic control and inflammation, and therefore provide a new model that can be used to explore links between GHRH repression, downregulation of the somatotropic axis, and extended longevity.
eLife digest
There is increasing evidence that the hormonal systems involved in growth, the metabolism of glucose, and the processes that balance energy intake and expenditure might also be involved in the aging process. In rodents, mutations in genes involved in these hormone-signaling pathways can substantially increase lifespan, as can a diet that is low in calories but which avoids malnutrition. As well as living longer, such mice also show reductions in age-related conditions such as diabetes, memory loss and cancer.
Many of these effects appear to involve the actions of growth hormone. Mice with mutations that disrupt the development of the pituitary gland, which produces growth hormone, show increased longevity, as do mice that lack the receptor for growth hormone. However, these animals also show changes in a number of other hormones, making it difficult to be sure that the reduction in growth hormone signaling is responsible for their increased lifespan.
Now, Sun et al. have studied mutant mice that lack a gene called GHRH, which promotes the release of growth hormone. These mice, which have normal levels of all other pituitary hormones, lived for up to 50% longer than their wild-type littermates. They were more active than normal mice and had more body fat, and showed greatly increased sensitivity to insulin.
Some of the changes in these mutant mice resembled those seen in animals with a restricted calorie intake, suggesting that the same mechanisms may be implicated in both. However, Sun et al. found that caloric restriction further increased the lifespans of their GHRH knockout mice, indicating that at least some of the effects of caloric restriction are independent of disrupted growth hormone signaling.
The results of this study are an important step forward for understanding how growth hormone signaling and caloric restriction regulate aging, both individually and in combination. The GHRH knockout mice are likely to become an important model system for studying these processes and for understanding the complex interactions between diet and hormonal pathways.
PMCID: PMC3810783  PMID: 24175087
mice; aging; caloric restriction; growth hormone; Mouse
12.  Gene expression profiling of long-lived dwarf mice: longevity-associated genes and relationships with diet, gender and aging 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:353.
Long-lived strains of dwarf mice carry mutations that suppress growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) signaling. The downstream effects of these endocrine abnormalities, however, are not well understood and it is unclear how these processes interact with aging mechanisms. This study presents a comparative analysis of microarray experiments that have measured hepatic gene expression levels in long-lived strains carrying one of four mutations (Prop1df/df, Pit1dw/dw, Ghrhrlit/lit, GHR-KO) and describes how the effects of these mutations relate to one another at the transcriptional level. Points of overlap with the effects of calorie restriction (CR), CR mimetic compounds, low fat diets, gender dimorphism and aging were also examined.
All dwarf mutations had larger and more consistent effects on IGF-I expression than dietary treatments. In comparison to dwarf mutations, however, the transcriptional effects of CR (and some CR mimetics) overlapped more strongly with those of aging. Surprisingly, the Ghrhrlit/lit mutation had much larger effects on gene expression than the GHR-KO mutation, even though both mutations affect the same endocrine pathway. Several genes potentially regulated or co-regulated with the IGF-I transcript in liver tissue were identified, including a DNA repair gene (Snm1) that is upregulated in proportion to IGF-I inhibition. A total of 13 genes exhibiting parallel differential expression patterns among all four strains of long-lived dwarf mice were identified, in addition to 30 genes with matching differential expression patterns in multiple long-lived dwarf strains and under CR.
Comparative analysis of microarray datasets can identify patterns and consistencies not discernable from any one dataset individually. This study implements new analytical approaches to provide a detailed comparison among the effects of life-extending mutations, dietary treatments, gender and aging. This comparison provides insight into a broad range of issues relevant to the study of mammalian aging. In this context, 43 longevity-associated genes are identified and individual genes with the highest level of support among all microarray experiments are highlighted. These results provide promising targets for future experimental investigation as well as potential clues for understanding the functional basis of lifespan extension in mammalian systems.
PMCID: PMC2094713  PMID: 17915019
13.  Deletion of growth hormone receptor gene but not visceral fat removal decreases expression of apoptosis-related genes in the kidney—potential mechanism of lifespan extension 
Age  2011;34(2):295-304.
Mice homozygous for the targeted disruption of the growth hormone (GH) receptor (Ghr) gene (GH receptor knockout; GHRKO; KO) are hypoinsulinemic, highly insulin sensitive, normoglycemic, and long-lived. Visceral fat removal (VFR) is a surgical intervention which improves insulin signaling in normal (N) mice and rats and extends longevity in rats. We have previously demonstrated decreased expression level of certain pro-apoptotic genes in skeletal muscles and suggested that this may contribute to the regulation of longevity in GHRKO mice. Alterations in apoptosis-related genes expression in the kidneys also may potentially lead to lifespan extension. In this context, we decided to examine the renal expression of the following genes: caspase-3, caspase-9, caspase-8, bax, bad, bcl-2, Smac/DIABLO, Apaf-1, p53, and cytochrome c1 (cyc1) in male GHRKO and N mice subjected to VFR or sham surgery, at approximately 6 months of age. The kidneys were collected 2 months after VFR. As a result, caspase-3, caspase-9, and bax expressions were decreased in KO mice as compared to N animals. Expressions of Smac/DIABLO, caspase-8, bcl-2, bad, and p53 did not differ between KOs and N mice. VFR did not change the expression of the examined genes in KO or N mice. In conclusion, endocrine abnormalities in GHRKO mice result in decreased expression of pro-apoptotic genes and VFR did not alter the examined genes expression in N and KO mice. These data are consistent with a model in which alterations of GH signaling and/or insulin sensitivity lead to increased lifespan mediated by decreased renal expression of pro-apoptotic genes.
PMCID: PMC3312636  PMID: 21431351
Apoptosis; GHRKO mice; Kidney; Gene expression; Caspases; Visceral fat removal
14.  Upregulation of the Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/Angiotensin-(1-7)/Mas Receptor Axis in the Heart and the Kidney of Growth Hormone Receptor knock-out Mice 
Growth hormone (GH) resistance leads to enhanced insulin sensitivity, decreased systolic blood pressure and increased lifespan. The aim of this study was to determine if there is a shift in the balance of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) towards the ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/Mas receptor axis in the heart and the kidney of a model of GH resistance and retarded aging, the GH receptor knockout (GHR−/−) mouse.
RAS components were evaluated in the heart and the kidney of GHR−/− and control mice by immunohistochemistry and western blotting (n=12 for both groups).
The immunostaining of Ang-(1-7) was increased in both the heart and the kidney of GHR−/− mice. These changes were concomitant with an increased immunostaining of the Mas receptor and ACE2 in both tissues. The immunostaining of AT1 receptor was reduced in heart and kidney of GHR−/− mice while that of AT2 receptor was increased in the heart and unaltered in the kidney. Ang II, ACE and angiotensinogen levels remained unaltered in the heart and the kidney of GH resistant mice. These results were confirmed by Western Blotting and correlated with a significant increase in the abundance of the endothelial nitric oxide synthase in both tissues.
The shift within the RAS towards an exacerbation of the ACE2/Ang-(1-7)/Mas receptor axis observed in GHR−/− mice could be related to a protective role in cardiac and renal function; and thus, possibly contribute to the decreased incidence of cardiovascular diseases displayed by this animal model of longevity.
PMCID: PMC3698955  PMID: 22947377
Angiotensin-(1-7); AT1 receptor; Mas receptor; Growth hormone; Renin-angiotensin system
15.  Identification and characterization of single nucleotide polymorphisms in 12 chicken growth-correlated genes by denaturing high performance liquid chromatography 
The genes that are part of the somatotropic axis play a crucial role in the regulation of growth and development of chickens. The identification of genetic polymorphisms in these genes will enable the scientist to evaluate the biological relevance of such polymorphisms and to gain a better understanding of quantitative traits like growth. In the present study, 75 pairs of primers were designed and four chicken breeds, significantly differing in growth and reproduction characteristics, were used to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) using the denaturing high performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC) technology. A total of 283 SNP were discovered in 31 897 base pairs (bp) from 12 genes of the growth hormone (GH), growth hormone receptor (GHR), ghrelin, growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR), insulin-like growth factor I and II (IGF-I and -II), insulin-like growth factor binding protein 2 (IGFBP-2), insulin, leptin receptor (LEPR), pituitary-specific transcription factor-1 (PIT-1), somatostatin (SS), thyroid-stimulating hormone beta subunit (TSH-β). The observed average distances in bp between the SNP in the 5'UTR, coding regions (non- and synonymous), introns and 3'UTR were 172, 151 (473 and 222), 89 and 141 respectively. Fifteen non-synonymous SNP altered the translated precursors or mature proteins of GH, GHR, ghrelin, IGFBP-2, PIT-1 and SS. Fifteen indels of no less than 2 bps and 2 poly (A) polymorphisms were also observed in 9 genes. Fifty-nine PCR-RFLP markers were found in 11 genes. The SNP discovered in this study provided suitable markers for association studies of candidate genes for growth related traits in chickens.
PMCID: PMC2697233  PMID: 15823239
chickens; genes; SNP; DHPLC
16.  Long-living growth hormone receptor knock out mice: Potential mechanisms of altered stress resistance 
Experimental gerontology  2008;44(1-2):10-19.
Endocrine mutant mice have proven invaluable toward the quest to uncover mechanisms underlying longevity. Growth hormone (GH) and insulin like-growth factor (IGF) have been shown to be key players in physiological systems that contribute to aging processes including glucose metabolism, body composition and cellular protection. Examination of these mutant mice across several laboratories has revealed that differences exist in both the direction and magnitude of change, differences that may result in variation in life span. Growth hormone receptor knock out mice lack a functional GH receptor, therefore GH signaling is absent. These mice have been shown to lack the heightened oxidative defense mechanisms observed in other GH mutants yet live significantly longer than wild type mice. In this study, glutathione (GSH) and methionine (MET) metabolism was examined to determine the extent of variation in this mutant in comparison to the Ames dwarf, a mouse that exhibits delayed aging and life span extension of nearly 70%. Components of GSH and MET were altered in GHR KO compared to wild type controls. The results of these experiments suggest that these pathways may be partially responsible for differences observed in stress resistance and the capacity to respond to stressors, that in the long term, affect health and life span.
PMCID: PMC2743895  PMID: 18675334
aging; metabolism; glutathione; methionine; stress resistance
17.  siRNA-targeted inhibition of growth hormone receptor in human colon cancer SW480 cells 
AIM: To determine the effects of RNAi-mediated inhibition of the growth hormone receptor (GHR) gene on tumors and colon cancer cells in vivo.
METHODS: Construction of a eukaryotic vector for human GHR expression, the pcDNA™6.2-GW/EmGFP-small interfering RNAs (siRNAs)-GHR plasmid, was used to inhibit GHR expression. Thirty-six BALB/c nude mice were randomly divided into groups and treated with normal saline (NS), recombinant plasmid (G2), growth hormone (GH), 5-fluorouracil (FU), G2+FU or G2+FU+GH. Each nude mouse was subcutaneously inoculated with 1×107 human colon cancer SW480 cells; the nude mice were weighed before inoculation and on the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th, 14th and 17th day after inoculation. All nude mice were sacrificed after 17 d. Each subcutaneous tumor was removed and studied. Tumor volume was measured on the 5th, 8th, 11th, 14th and 17th day after inoculation. The expression of GHR protein in the tumor tissue was detected by Western blotting analysis, and the differences in GHR mRNA expression in the tumor tissue were detected by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
RESULTS: Compared to the control group, the weights of the inoculated nude mice on the 17th day after inoculation were: G2: 21.60 ± 0.71 g, GH: 21.64 ± 0.45 g, FU: 18.94 ± 0.47 g, FU+G2: 19.40 ± 0.60 g, G2+FU+GH: 21.04 ± 0.78 g vs NS: 20.68 ± 0.66 g, P < 0.05; the tumor volumes after the subcutaneous inoculation were: G2: 9.71 ± 3.82 mm3, FU: 11.54 ± 2.42 mm3, FU+G2: 11.42 ± 1.11 mm3, G2+FU+GH: 10.47 ± 1.02 mm3 vs NS: 116.81 ± 10.61 mm3, P < 0.05. Compared to the GH group, the tumor volumes were significantly decreased in the experimental groups. The GHR protein expression (G2: 0.39 ± 0.02, FU: 0.40 ± 0.02, FU+G2: 0.38 ± 0.01, G2+FU+GH: 0.39 ± 0.01 vs NS: 0.94 ± 0.02, P < 0.05) and the GHR mRNA expression (G2: 14.12 ± 0.10, FU: 15.15 ± 0.44, FU+G2: 16.46 ± 0.27, G2+FU+GH: 15.37 ± 0.57 vs NS: 12.63 ± 0.14, P < 0.05) were significantly decreased and increased, respectively, in the experimental groups.
CONCLUSION: Inhibition of GHR in human colon cancer SW480 cells resulted in anti-tumor effects in nude mice.
PMCID: PMC3848161  PMID: 24307807
Growth hormone receptor; Small interfering RNAs; Colon cancer; Gene therapy; Signaling pathway
18.  The influence of gene-environment interactions on GHR and IGF-1 expression and their association with growth in brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis (Mitchill) 
BMC Genetics  2007;8:87.
Quantitative reaction norm theory proposes that genotype-by-environment interaction (GxE) results from inter-individual differences of expression in adaptive suites of genes in distinct environments. However, environmental norms for actual gene suites are poorly documented. In this study, we investigated the effects of GxE interactions on levels of gene transcription and growth by documenting the impact of rearing environment (freshwater vs. saltwater), sex and genotypic (low vs. high estimated breeding value EBV) effects on the transcription level of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and growth hormone receptor (GHR) in brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis).
Males grew faster than females (μ♀ = 1.20 ± 0.07 g·d-1, μ♂ = 1.46 ± 0.06 g·d-1) and high-EBV fish faster than low-EBV fish (μLOW = 0.97 ± 0.05 g·d-1, μHIGH = 1.58 ± 0.07 g·d-1; p < 0.05). However, growth was markedly lower in saltwater-reared fish than freshwater sibs (μFW = 1.52 ± 0.07 g·d-1, μSW = 1.15 ± 0.06 g·d-1), yet GHR mRNA transcription level was significantly higher in saltwater than in freshwater (μSW = 0.85 ± 0.05, μFW = 0.61 ± 0.05). The ratio of actual growth to units in assayed mRNA ('individual transcript efficiency', iTE; g·d-1·u-1) also differed among EBV groups (μLOW = 2.0 ± 0.24 g·d-1·u-1; μHIGH = 3.7 ± 0.24 g·d-1·u-1) and environments (μSW = 2.0 ± 0.25 g·d-1·u-1; μFW = 3.7 ± 0.25 g·d-1·u-1) for GHR. Males had a lower iTE for GHR than females (μ♂ = 2.4 ± 0.29 g·d-1·u-1; μ♀ = 3.1 ± 0.23 g·d-1·u-1). There was no difference in IGF-1 transcription level between environments (p > 0.7) or EBV groups (p > 0.15) but the level of IGF-1 was four times higher in males than females (μ♂ = 2.4 ± 0.11, μ♀ = 0.58 ± 0.09; p < 0.0001). We detected significant sexual differences in iTE (μ♂ = 1.3 ± 0.59 g·d-1·u-1; μ♀ = 3.9 ± 0.47 g·d-1·u-1), salinities (μSW = 2.3 ± 0.52 g·d-1·u-1; μFW = 3.7 ± 0.53 g·d-1·u-1) and EBV-groups (μLOW = 2.4 ± 0.49 g·d-1·u-1; μHIGH = 3.8 ± 0.49 g·d-1·u-1). Interaction between EBV-group and environment was detected for both GHR (p = 0.027) and IGF-1 (p = 0.019), and for iTE in the two genes (p < 0.0001; p < 0.05, respectively), where increased divergence in levels of GHR and IGF-1 transcription occurred among EBV-groups in the saltwater environment.
Our results show that both environment and sex have major impacts on the expression of mRNA for two key genes involved in the physiological pathway for growth. We also demonstrate for the first time, at least in fish, genotype-by-environment interaction at the level of individual gene transcription. This work contributes significantly to ongoing efforts towards documenting environmentally and sexually induced variance of gene activity and understanding the resulting phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC2257973  PMID: 18154679
19.  Growth Hormone Receptor Deficiency is Associated With a Major Reduction in Pro-aging Signaling, Cancer and Diabetes in Humans 
Science Translational Medicine  2011;3(70):70ra13.
Life span extending mutations in growth signaling pathways protect against age-dependent DNA damage in yeast and decrease insulin resistance and cancer in mice. To test their effect in humans, we monitored for 22 years Ecuadorian subjects with mutations in the growth hormone receptor gene leading to severe growth hormone receptor (GHR) and IGF-I deficiencies and combined this information with surveys to identify the cause and age of death for subjects who died before this period. The individuals with GHR deficiency (GHRD) exhibited only one non-lethal malignancy and no cases of diabetes, in contrast to 17% cancer and 5% diabetes prevalence in the controls. A possible explanation for the very low incidence of cancer may be revealed by in vitro studies: serum from GHRD subjects reduced DNA breaks but increased apoptosis in human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs) treated with hydrogen peroxide. We also observed reduced insulin concentrations (1.4 μU/ml vs. 4.4μU/ml in unaffected relatives) and a very low homoeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index (0.34 vs. 0.96 in unaffected relatives) in GHRD individuals, indicating increased insulin sensitivity, which could explain the absence of diabetes in these subjects. Incubation of HMECs with GHRD serum also resulted in reduced expression of RAS, PKA and TOR, and up-regulation of SOD2, changes that promote cellular protection and life span extension in model organisms. These results provide evidence for a role of evolutionarily conserved pathways in promoting aging and diseases in humans and identify a candidate drug target for healthy life span extension.
PMCID: PMC3357623  PMID: 21325617
20.  Role of the GH/IGF-1 axis in lifespan and healthspan: lessons from animal models 
Animal models are fundamentally important in our quest to understand the genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors that contribute to human aging. In comparison to humans, relatively short-lived mammals are useful models as they allow for rapid assessment of both genetic manipulation and environmental intervention as related to longevity. These models also allow for the study of clinically relevant pathologies as a function of aging. Data associated with more distant species offers additional insight and critical consideration of the basic physiological processes and molecular mechanisms that influence lifespan. Consistently, two interventions, caloric restriction and repression of the growth hormone (GH)/insulin like growth factor-1/insulin axis, have been shown to increase lifespan in both invertebrates and vertebrate animal model systems. Caloric restriction (CR) is a nutrition intervention that robustly extends lifespan whether it is started early or later in life. Likewise, genes involved in the GH/IGF-1 signaling pathways can lengthen lifespan in vertebrates and invertebrates, implying evolutionary conservation of the molecular mechanisms. Specifically, insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)-like signaling and its downstream intracellular signaling molecules have been shown to be associated with lifespan in fruit flies and nematodes. More recently, mammalian models with reduced growth hormone (GH) and/or IGF-1 signaling have also been shown to have extended lifespans as compared to control siblings. Importantly, this research has also shown that these genetic alterations can keep the animals healthy and disease-free for longer periods and can alleviate specific age-related pathologies similar to what is observed for CR individuals. Thus, these mutations may not only extend lifespan but may also improve healthspan, the general health and quality of life of an organism as it ages. In this review, we will provide an overview of how the manipulation of the GH/IGF-axis influences lifespan, highlight the invertebrate and vertebrate animal models with altered lifespan due to modifications to the GH/IGF-1 signaling cascade or homologous pathways, and discuss the basic phenotypic characteristics and healthspan of these models.
PMCID: PMC2631405  PMID: 18710818
21.  Targeted Loss of GHR Signaling in Mouse Skeletal Muscle Protects Against High-Fat Diet–Induced Metabolic Deterioration 
Diabetes  2011;61(1):94-103.
Growth hormone (GH) exerts diverse tissue-specific metabolic effects that are not revealed by global alteration of GH action. To study the direct metabolic effects of GH in the muscle, we specifically inactivated the growth hormone receptor (ghr) gene in postnatal mouse skeletal muscle using the Cre/loxP system (mGHRKO model). The metabolic state of the mGHRKO mice was characterized under lean and obese states. High-fat diet feeding in the mGHRKO mice was associated with reduced adiposity, improved insulin sensitivity, lower systemic inflammation, decreased muscle and hepatic triglyceride content, and greater energy expenditure compared with control mice. The obese mGHRKO mice also had an increased respiratory exchange ratio, suggesting increased carbohydrate utilization. GH-regulated suppressor of cytokine signaling-2 (socs2) expression was decreased in obese mGHRKO mice. Interestingly, muscles of both lean and obese mGHRKO mice demonstrated a higher interleukin-15 and lower myostatin expression relative to controls, indicating a possible mechanism whereby GHR signaling in muscle could affect liver and adipose tissue function. Thus, our study implicates skeletal muscle GHR signaling in mediating insulin resistance in obesity and, more importantly, reveals a novel role of muscle GHR signaling in facilitating cross-talk between muscle and other metabolic tissues.
PMCID: PMC3237669  PMID: 22187377
22.  MSM Enhances GH Signaling via the Jak2/STAT5b Pathway in Osteoblast-Like Cells and Osteoblast Differentiation through the Activation of STAT5b in MSCs 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47477.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound with well-known anti-oxidant properties and anti-inflammatory activities. But, its effects on bone are unknown. Growth hormone (GH) is regulator of bone growth and bone metabolism. GH activates several signaling pathways such as the Janus kinase (Jak)/signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) pathway, thereby regulating expression of genes including insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1. GH exerts effects both directly and via IGF-1, which signals by activating the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R). In this study, we investigated the effects of MSM on the GH signaling via the Jak/STAT pathway in osteoblasts and the differentiation of primary bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSM was not toxic to osteoblastic cells and MSCs. MSM increased the expression of GH-related proteins including IGF-1R, p-IGF-1R, STAT5b, p-STAT5b, and Jak2 in osteoblastic cells and MSCs. MSM increased IGF-1R and GHR mRNA expression in osteoblastic cells. The expression of MSM-induced IGF-1R and GHR was inhibited by AG490, a Jak2 kinase inhibitor. MSM induced binding of STAT5 to the IGF-1R and increased IGF-1 and IGF-1R promoter activities. Analysis of cell extracts by immunoprecipitation and Western blot showed that MSM enhanced GH-induced activation of Jak2/STAT5b. We found that MSM and GH, separately or in combination, activated GH signaling via the Jak2/STAT5b pathway in UMR-106 cells. Using siRNA analysis, we found that STAT5b plays an essential role in GH signaling activation in C3H10T1/2 cells. Osteogenic marker genes (ALP, ON, OCN, BSP, OSX, and Runx2) were activated by MSM, and siRNA-mediated STAT5b knockdown inhibited MSM-induced expression of osteogenic markers. Furthermore, MSM increased ALP activity and the mineralization of MSCs. Taken together, these results indicated that MSM can promote osteogenic differentiation of MSCs through activation of STAT5b.
PMCID: PMC3469535  PMID: 23071812
The long-lived growth hormone (GH) receptor knockout (GHRKO; KO) mice are GH resistant due to targeted disruption of the GH receptor (Ghr) gene. Apoptosis is a physiological process in which cells play an active role in their own death and is a normal component of the development and health of multicellular organisms. Aging is associated with the progressive loss of strength of skeletal and heart muscles. Calorie restriction (CR) is a well known experimental model to delay aging and increase lifespan. The aim of the study was to examine the expression of the following apoptosis-related genes: caspase-3, caspase-9, caspase-8, bax, bcl-2, Smac/DIABLO, p53 and cytochrome c1 (cyc1) in the skeletal muscles and hearts of female normal and GHRKO mice, fed ad libitum or subjected to 40% CR for 6 months, starting at 2 months of age. Moreover, skeletal muscle caspase-3, caspase-9, caspase-8, bax, bcl-2, Smac/DIABLO, Apaf-1, bad, phospho-bad (pbad), phospho-p53 (pp53) and cytochrome c (cyc) protein expression levels were assessed.
Expression of caspase-3, caspase-9, bax and Smac/DIABLO genes and proteins was decreased in GHRKO’s skeletal muscles. The Apaf-1 protein expression also was diminished in this tissue. In contrast, bcl-2 and pbad protein levels were increased in skeletal muscles in knockouts. No changes were demonstrated for the examined genes expression in GHRKO’s hearts except for the increased level of cyc1 mRNA. CR did not alter the expression of the examined genes and proteins in skeletal muscles of knockouts vs. normal (N) mice. In heart homogenates, CR increased caspase-3 mRNA level as compared to ad libitum (AL) mice.
decreased expression of certain pro-apoptotic genes and/or proteins may constitute the potential mechanism of prolonged longevity in GHRKO mice, protecting these animals from aging; this potential beneficial mechanism is not affected by calorie restriction.
PMCID: PMC3703836  PMID: 21321312
24.  Regulation of Lifespan, Metabolism, and Stress Responses by the Drosophila SH2B Protein, Lnk 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(3):e1000881.
Drosophila Lnk is the single ancestral orthologue of a highly conserved family of structurally-related intracellular adaptor proteins, the SH2B proteins. As adaptors, they lack catalytic activity but contain several protein–protein interaction domains, thus playing a critical role in signal transduction from receptor tyrosine kinases to form protein networks. Physiological studies of SH2B function in mammals have produced conflicting data. However, a recent study in Drosophila has shown that Lnk is an important regulator of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 signaling (IIS) pathway during growth, functioning in parallel to the insulin receptor substrate, Chico. As this pathway also has an evolutionary conserved role in the determination of organism lifespan, we investigated whether Lnk is required for normal lifespan in Drosophila. Phenotypic analysis of mutants for Lnk revealed that loss of Lnk function results in increased lifespan and improved survival under conditions of oxidative stress and starvation. Starvation resistance was found to be associated with increased metabolic stores of carbohydrates and lipids indicative of impaired metabolism. Biochemical and genetic data suggest that Lnk functions in both the IIS and Ras/Mitogen activated protein Kinase (MapK) signaling pathways. Microarray studies support this model, showing transcriptional feedback onto genes in both pathways as well as indicating global changes in both lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Finally, our data also suggest that Lnk itself may be a direct target of the IIS responsive transcription factor, dFoxo, and that dFoxo may repress Lnk expression. We therefore describe novel functions for a member of the SH2B protein family and provide the first evidence for potential mechanisms of SH2B regulation. Our findings suggest that IIS signaling in Drosophila may require the activity of a second intracellular adaptor, thereby yielding fundamental new insights into the functioning and role of the IIS pathway in ageing and metabolism.
Author Summary
Many human populations are experiencing increased life expectancy, and as populations age the incidence of age-related diseases becomes more prevalent. The identification of single gene mutations that extend lifespan in invertebrate model organisms has revealed that several cellular signaling pathways, including the insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 signaling (IIS) pathway, play a crucial role in modulating the ageing process across multiple species. Thus, studies carried out in yeast, worms, and flies have revealed evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of ageing, which are likely to be relevant to mammals, including humans. A recent study in Drosophila identified the SH2B family adaptor protein, Lnk, as an important regulator of the IIS pathway during organismal growth. In this study, we show that Lnk is also required to determine normal lifespan in Drosophila, as mutations that disrupt Lnk activity result in increased lifespan. In addition, these mutants show improved survival under conditions of stress and metabolic disregulation. Furthermore, we show that the expression of Lnk is regulated by the IIS responsive transcription factor, dFoxo. Our data therefore provide new mechanistic insights into the role of the IIS pathway in ageing.
PMCID: PMC2841611  PMID: 20333234
25.  Impaired IGF1R signaling in cells expressing longevity-associated human IGF1R alleles 
Aging cell  2011;10(3):551-554.
Dampening of insulin/insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF1) signaling results in extension of lifespan in invertebrate as well as murine models. The impact of this evolutionarily conserved pathway on modulation of human lifespan remains unclear. We previously identified two IGF1R mutations (Ala-37-Thr and Arg-407-His) that are enriched in Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians as compared to younger controls and are associated with reduced activity of the IGF1 receptor as measured in immortalized lymphocytes. To determine whether these human longevity-associated IGF1R mutations affect IGF1 signaling, we engineered mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) expressing the different human IGF1R variants in a mouse Igf1r null background. The results indicate that MEFs expressing the human longevity-associated IGF1R mutations attenuated IGF1 signaling, as demonstrated by significant reduction in phosphorylation of both IGF1R and AKT after IGF1 treatment, in comparisons to MEFs expressing the wild type IGF1R. The impaired IGF1 signaling caused by the IGF1R mutations resulted in reduced induction of the major IGF1-activated genes in MEFs, including EGR1, mCSF, IL3Rα, and TDAG51. Furthermore, the IGF1R mutations caused a delay in cell cycle progression after IGF1 treatment, indicating a dysfunctional physiological response to a cell proliferation signal. These results demonstrate that the human longevity-associated IGF1R variants are reduced-function mutations, implying that dampening of IGF1 signaling may be a longevity mechanism in humans.
PMCID: PMC3094477  PMID: 21388493
human longevity; IGF1 signaling; genetic variation; gene expression

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