Human growth hormone receptor (GHR) expression in obesity: I.GHRmRNA expression in omental and subcutaneous adipose tissues of obese women

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Growth hormone (GH)-deficient individuals display increased adiposity that can be effectively reduced by GH therapy because of GH's lipolytic effects. However, similar GH treatments of individuals with idiopathic obesity (not associated with an endocrinopathy/syndrome) have had little success. We hypothesized that this form of obesity may be associated with GH resistance at the level of the adipocyte because of reduced GH receptor (GHR) expression.

Subjects and methods:

We studied GHR expression in omental and subcutaneous fat tissues from a cohort of 55 women ranging from lean to obese by various adiposity parameters. mRNA levels of total GHR and the dominant-negative truncated GHR1-279 (trGHR) form were assayed by quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. Associations between adiposity measures and GHR levels as well as trGHR/GHR ratios were analyzed.


Total GHR mRNA expression was 2-3-fold lower in omental as well as subcutaneous adipose tissues of obese compared with lean women (P≤0.05-0.001). Lean individuals expressed higher GHR mRNA levels in omental fat compared with subcutaneous (P≤0.01); in obese women, this depot-specific difference was lost. Omental and subcutaneous adipose GHR mRNA levels displayed significant negative correlations with a spectrum of indicators of obesity while, in subcutaneous fat, there was a significantly higher trGHR/GHR ratio with increasing adiposity (P≤0.05).


These results support our hypothesis that, with obesity, there is lower GHR expression in the adipocyte, and suggest one possible explanation why GH supplementation is not an effective treatment for individuals with idiopathic obesity.

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