The factors controlling normal placental development are poorly understood. We have previously reported the presence of ovine placental growth hormone (oPGH) and growth hormone receptors in ovine placenta, and oPGH production by the trophectoderm and syncitium during the second month of pregnancy. To identify factors regulating oPGH production, we developed a perifusion system to measure oPGH and ovine placental lactogen (oPL) production by Day 45 ovine placental explants. The mRNAs for both hormones were quantitated by real-time polymerase chain reaction in explants collected after perifusion periods of up to 8 h. Ovine PGH and oPL were released into the medium at mean rates of 2.45 ± 0.2 and 353.6 ± 13.6 ng/g/h, respectively. Ovine placenta produces growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), but addition of GHRH to the perifusion medium did not modify either oPGH or oPL production. In vivo, oPGH production occurs between Days 30 and 60 of pregnancy. Because modulation of the maternal diet during this period affects placental development, the potential regulation of oPGH and oPL production by glucose was evaluated. Glucose supplementation of the perifusion medium resulted in a concentration-dependent decrease in oPGH release after 4 h, but oPGH mRNA levels were not affected. Production of oPL was not affected by glucose. Thus, oPGH and oPL belong to the same growth hormone/prolactin family but are differentially regulated by glucose. Ovine PGH modulations should be taken into account in metabolic experiments performed during the first trimester of pregnancy in sheep.
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