Effects of growth hormone and low dose estrogen on bone growth and turnover in long bones of hypophysectomized rats

L. S. Kidder, I. U. Schmidt, G. L. Evans, R. T. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Pituitary hormones are recognized as critical to longitudinal growth, but their role in the radial growth of bone and in maintaining cancellous bone balance are less clear. This investigation examines the histomorphometric effects of hypophysectomy (Hx) and ovariectomy (OVX) and the subsequent replacement of growth hormone (GH) and estrogen (E), in order to determine the effects and possible interactions between these two hormones on cortical and cancellous bone growth and turnover. The replacement of estrogen is of interest since Hx results in both pituitary and gonadal hormone insufficiencies, with the latter being caused by the Hx-associated reduction in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). All hypophysectomized animals received daily supplements of hydrocortisone (500 μg/kg) and L- thyroxine (10 μg/kg), whereas intact animals received daily saline injections. One week following surgery, hypophysectomized animals received either daily injections of low-dose 17 β-estradiol (4.8 μg/kg s.c.), 3 X/d recombinant human GH (2 U/kg s.c.), both, or saline for a period of two weeks. Flurochromes were administered at weekly intervals to label bone matrix undergoing mineralization. Whereas Hx resulted in reductions in body weight, uterine weight, and tibial length, OVX significantly increased body weight and tibial length, while reducing uterine weight. The combination of OVX and Hx resulted in values similar to Hx alone. Treatment with GH normalized body weight and bone length, while not affecting uterine weight in hypophysectomized animals. Estrogen increased uterine weight, while not impacting longitudinal bone growth and reduced body weight. Hypophysectomy diminished tibial cortical bone area through reductions in both mineral appositional rate (MAR) and bone formation rate (BFR). While E had no effect, GH increased both MAR and BFR, though not to sham-operated (control) levels. Hypophysectomy reduced proximal tibial trabecular number and cancellous bone area, and increased trabecular separation. Both GH and E reduced cancellous osteopenia, although employing different mechanisms. GH reduced the decrease in trabecular thickness, whereas E reduced the decrease in trabecular number and the increase in trabecular separation. Hypophysectomy reduced both Tb. MAR and Tb.BFR while treatment with GH enhanced them. This investigation has shown that Hx and GH have a dramatic impact on selected static and dynamic indices of rat cortical and cancellous histomorphometry. Furthermore, the mechanisms of action of GH and E differ, and suggest that some of the skeletal changes associated with Hx are caused by deficiencies in estrogen as well as deficiencies in growth hormone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalCalcified Tissue International
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Estrogen
  • Growth hormone
  • Hypophysectomy
  • Ovariectomy
  • Rat bone histomorphometry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of growth hormone and low dose estrogen on bone growth and turnover in long bones of hypophysectomized rats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this