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Fertility of transgenic female mice expressing bovine growth hormone or human growth hormone variant genes



Fertility of transgenic female mice expressing bovine growth hormone or human growth hormone variant genes



Biology of Reproduction 45(1): 178-187



Although growth hormone (GH) exerts various direct and indirect stimulatory effects on gonadal development and function, excessive levels of GH in acromegalic patients and in transgenic animals are often associated with reproductive disorders. We have examined reproductive performance of transgenic female mice expressing the following hybrid genes; mouse metallothionein-1 (MT)/human placental GH variant (hGH.cntdot.V), MT/bovine GH (hGH), and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK)/bGH. This allowed us to evaluate the effects of chronic GH excess in three animal models and to obtain some information on the significance of the lactogenic activity of the foreign GH (hGH.cntdot.V vs. bGH) and on the developmental stage of transgene expression (MT vs. PEPCK). Transgenic animals from each line had elevated plasma insulin-like growth factor-I levels and greatly increased adult body weight. Plasma bGH levels were significantly higher in PEPCK/bGH than in MT/bGH transgenic mice. Approximately 20% of transgenic MT/hGH.cntdot.V and MT/bGH females and over 60% of transgenic PEPCK/bGH females were infertile. Transgenic females that did reproduce ovulated either a normal or increased number of eggsbut exhibited a variety of reproductive disorders including increased interval between pairing with a male and conception, increased interval between litters, reduced number of litters, reduced fetal growth, increased pre- and postnatal mortality, and alterations in sex ratio. Among adult offspring of these females, the proportion of transgenic animals was significantly less than the expected 50%. While some characteristics (e.g., fetal crown-rump length and weight on Day 14 of pregnancy) were affected to a comparable extent in transgenic females from all three lines, MT/hGH.cntdot.V and PEPCK/bGH females were, in general, more severely affected than the MT/bGH animals. Sterility of PEPCK/bGH females appeared to be due to luteal failure since treatment with progesterone led to pregnancy. Greatly increased intervals between successive litters appeared to be due to failure to mate during postpartum estrus and to sterile matings during this period. Reduced fetal size and weight may have been due to chronic glucocorticoid excess because comparable changes could be induced in normal females by injections of dexamethasone during pregnancy, and plasma corticosterone levels were previously shown to be elevated in transgenic mice from each of these lines. Comparisons of these results with data obtained from mating of normal female mice to transgenic males from the same lines suggests that reduced fetal growth is due primarily to maternal genotype, while reduced "transmission" of the hybrid genes is not, ad presumably reflects increased mortality of transgenic progeny at various stages of development. We conclude that expression of heterologous GH genes in transgenic mice leads to disturbances of female fertility that can range from mild to very severe, depending on the biological activity (hGH.cntdot.V vs bGH) and plasma levels (MT/bGH vs. PEPCK/bGH) of the foreign GH.

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Accession: 002109330

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PMID: 1878431

DOI: 10.1095/biolreprod45.1.178


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