Link Made Between Human Growth Hormone, Bone Quality In Mice

EDITORS: A black-and-white slide comparing magnified cross-sections of bone in experimental and control mice is available on request.

ANN ARBOR---Laboratory mice which have been genetically altered to produce human growth hormone grow to be 25-30 percent larger than normal mice---with much of that size difference coming from bigger bones, according to University of Michigan researchers. The trade-off for bigger bones in adolescence, however, appears to be poorer bone quality, increased brittleness and less resistance to fractures as mice age.

Steven A. Goldstein, professor of surgery in the U-M Medical School and professor of biomedical engineering in the U-M College of Engineering, suggested his results, while preliminary, raise a "red flag" on the increasing use of human growth hormone in short children and as a "fountain-of-youth drug" in the elderly.

The study by Kuo-Fung Tseng, now with the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, and Goldstein is published in the April 1998 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The U-M study was designed to learn more about complex feedback mechanisms between genes and mechanical forces, which control how bones grow and develop. "This balance between structure and function has evolved over years of mammalian evolutionary development to produce bone strong enough for an animal's daily activity, but not so strong that it requires too much energy to grow and maintain," Goldstein said. "Disturbances in this well-balanced relationship could result in bone fragility diseases, such as osteoporosis."

Thirty-nine of the male mice in the U-M study were transgenic---meaning that their DNA contained both mouse and human genes. These mice were able to secrete large amounts of human growth factor, because the human gene which triggers production of this hormone had been inserted into their DNA during the fertilized egg stage of de

Contact: Sally Pobojewski
(734) 647-1844
University of Michigan

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