SAN DIEGO -- A new study of growth hormone suggests it plays a role in the onset of Type I diabetes-induced kidney disease. Called diabetic nephropathy, the disease affects 10 percent to 21 percent of all people with diabetes.
Researchers at Ohio University induced Type I diabetes in normal mice and in mice in which the growth hormone receptor that binds the substance to cells had been genetically disrupted.
Ten weeks later, they examined the kidneys of all the mice. While the normal mice had evidence of diabetic kidney disease, the mice whose receptors had been disrupted did not.
"This clearly suggests growth hormone is important in the development of Type I diabetes-induced kidney damage," said John Kopchick, Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of molecular biology at Ohio University.
The findings were presented June 13 at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
Produced by the pituitary gland, growth hormone promotes normal body growth and development by altering chemical activity in cells. It stimulates the production of protein in muscle cells and the release of energy from the breakdown of fats.
Kopchick led the team of researchers working on this project, which is part of a larger study under way in the university's Edison Biotechnology Institute that has resulted in the development of growth hormone antagonists, the basis for a new class of drugs that one day may be used to treat a variety of diseases, including acromegaly, some forms of cancer and diabetic eye disease.
Growth hormone antagonists inhibit the action of the hormone at the cellular level by binding to receptors usually claimed by growth hormone.
Human and animal growth hormones contain a chain of 191 amino acids.
Kopchick's research team, which included co-inventor Wen Chen, a former senior
scientist with the institute now with Clemson University, discovered that
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