Distribution and development of growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) mRNA expression in rat brain and pituitary gland were examined using ribonuclease protection assay. In adult male rats, GHS-R mRNA levels were highest in the pituitary gland, whereas those in the hypothalamus and hippocampus were 57 and 30% of those in the pituitary gland, respectively. Less abundant but detectable levels of GHS-R mRNA were found in the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata, but expression was barely detectable in the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. The expression of GHS-R mRNA was detected at late gestation (embryonic day 19) in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and brainstem. The mRNA levels increased with age in the pituitary gland, and decreased postnatally in the brainstem, while they remained constant in the hypothalamus during development. In contrast, GHS-R mRNA was not detectable in the hippocampus during the fetal period, but was first detected on postnatal day 7. Expression of GHS-R mRNA was also examined in the spontaneous dwarf rat (SDR), a model for isolated GH deficiency, to examine alterations in GHS-R mRNA expression in a GH-deficient state. GHS-R mRNA levels in the pituitary gland of SDRs were higher than those of control rats, suggesting negative regulation of GHS-R mRNA by GH in this region. GHS-R mRNA levels increased in the hypothalamus of female, but not in male SDRs. In contrast, GHS-R mRNA levels were not affected by GH in the brainstem and hippocampus. These results indicate that region-specific, developmentally regulated expression of GHS-R mRNA may reflect divergent physiological roles of GHS/GHS-R in distinct regions of the central nervous system and the pituitary gland.
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