Circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) increase during puberty, concurrent with an increase in the levels of GH and the gonadal steroids. The relationship between the changes observed in IGF-I and testosterone (T) levels are not understood. This study was designed to determine whether T has a direct effect on IGF-I serum levels, liver IGF-I gene expression, and epiphyseal growth plate IGF-I and IGF-I receptor gene expression. Hypophysectomized castrated rats were divided into four groups of six animals. The T group was treated with se T for 5 days. The GH group was treated with a single dose of GH. The GH plus T group was treated with T for 5 days and with GH on the last day of treatment. The control group was injected for 5 days with vehicle alone. Serum IGF-I levels in the T group were not significantly different from those in the control group, and the levels in the GH plus T group were not significantly different from those in the GH group. There was an 11-fold increase in liver IGF-I mRNA abundance in the GH group compared to the control group (P < 0.01). Liver IGF-I mRNA levels in the T group were not significantly different from those in the control group. When liver IGF-I mRNA levels in the GH plus T group were compared to those in the GH-treated group, no significant differences were found. In the epiphyseal growth plate region, there was a 12-fold increase in IGF-I mRNA levels in the GH group compared to those in the control group, but there was no statistical difference between the control and T groups. IGF-I mRNA levels in the GH plus T group were not significantly different from those in the GH-treated group. IGF-I receptor mRNA abundance was not significantly different in the T group compared to that in the control group. GH decreased IGF-I receptor mRNA by 2.3-fold, but T treatment before GH injection did not change this effect. We conclude that in castrated hypophysectomized rats, T does not stimulate IGF-I gene expression in the liver, nor does it increase IGF-I serum levels. T alone also does not have a stimulatory effect on IGF-I or IGF-I receptor gene expression in the epiphyseal growth plate region. When given with GH, T did not increase the stimulatory effect GH had on liver and epiphyseal growth plate region IGF-I gene expression or IGF-I serum levels. T also did not change the effect GH had on IGF-I receptor mRNA levels in the epiphyseal growth plate region.
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