Growth hormone stimulates bone formation and strength of cortical bone in aged rats


  • Part of this paper has been reported as an abstract <400 words at “The Second Workshop on Using the Live Rat in Skeletal Studies,” Chicago, 1992.


The influence of growth hormone on bone formation, mechanical strength, and composition has been investigated in femur middiaphyseal cortical bone from 2-year-old male rats. The rats were given biosynthetic human growth hormone (bhGH) at 2.7 mg/kg/day in two daily injections for 20, 40, or 80 days, and all animals were killed 80 days after the start of bhGH administration. Control animals were given saline. All animals were labeled with tetracycline on days 41 and 69. Only in the bhGH-80-day group was subperiosteal tetracycline double labeling seen all around the femur diaphysis, and this pattern was found in all animals of the group. Double labeling subperiosteally at the posteromedial aspect was found in all animals of the experiment, but compared with the control group, a 400% and an 800% increase in mineral apposition rate was seen in the bhGH-40-day and bhGH-80-day groups, respectively. Light microscopy and polarization microscopy showed that this newly deposited bone was organized in the same concentric lammellae and had the same direction of the collagen fibers when compared with the surrounding bone formed before the start of bhGH injections. The cortical bone cross-sectional area was increased in the bhGH-40-day and bhGH-80-day groups. At the endosteum, scattered labeling was found in animals from all groups, and no differences in medullary cross-sectional areas were seen. The mechanical analysis revealed an increased mechanical strength of the whole diaphyseal bone after bhGH administration. When the data were corrected for dimensions of the diaphyseal bone, no differences in intrinsic mechanical properties of the bone tissue were found. No differences in apparent density of dry defatted bone, ash, and collagen were seen, whereas apparent density of dry defatted bone minus ash was decreased in all groups given bhGH. Correspondingly, a slight increase in ash concentrations of the bhGH-injected animals was seen. bhGH administration also increased the body weight, muscle mass, and total serum IGF-I and thyroxine concentrations. (