Objective: The liver is a central target organ of growth hormone (GH), which stimulates the synthesis of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and affects multiple biochemical pathways. A systematic multi-omics analysis of GH effects in the liver has not been performed. GH receptor (GHR) deficiency is a unique model for studying the consequences of lacking GH action. In this study, we used molecular profiling techniques to capture a broad spectrum of these effects in the liver of a clinically relevant large animal model for Laron syndrome.
Methods: We performed holistic proteome and targeted metabolome analyses of liver samples from 6-month-old GHR-deficient (GHR-KO) pigs and GHR-expressing controls (four males, four females per group).
Results: GHR deficiency resulted in an increased abundance of enzymes involved in amino acid degradation, in the urea cycle, and in the tricarboxylic acid cycle. A decreased ratio of long-chain acylcarnitines to free carnitine suggested reduced activity of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A and thus reduced mitochondrial import of fatty acids for beta-oxidation. Increased levels of short-chain acylcarnitines in the liver and in the circulation of GHR-KO pigs may result from impaired beta-oxidation of short-chain fatty acids or from increased degradation of specific amino acids. The concentration of mono-unsaturated glycerophosphocholines was significantly increased in the liver of GHR-KO pigs without morphological signs of steatosis, although the abundances of several proteins functionally linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (fetuin B, retinol binding protein 4, several mitochondrial proteins) were increased. Moreover, GHR-deficient liver samples revealed distinct changes in the methionine and glutathione metabolic pathways, in particular, a significantly increased level of glycine N-methyltransferase and increased levels of total and free glutathione. Several proteins revealed a sex-related abundance difference in the control group but not in the GHR-KO group.
Conclusions: Our integrated proteomics/targeted metabolomics study of GHR-deficient and control liver samples from a clinically relevant large animal model identified a spectrum of biological pathways that are significantly altered in the absence of GH action. Moreover, new insights into the role of GH in the sex-related specification of liver functions were provided.
Keywords: Growth hormone; Laron syndrome; Liver; Metabolomics; Pig model; Proteomics.
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