Growth-retarded (grt) mice display primary congenital hypothyroidism due to the hyporesponsiveness of their thyroid glands to thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). We examined somatic growth, anterior pituitary development, and hormonal profiles in female grt mice and normal ones. Although growth in grt females was suppressed 2 weeks after birth, the measured growth parameters and organ weights gradually increased and finally reached close to the normal levels. Grt mice exhibited delayed eye and vaginal openings and remained in a state of persistent diestrus thereafter, plasma estrogen levels being lower than those in normal mice. Grt mice that received normal-donor thyroids showed accelerated growth and their body weights increased up to the sham-normal levels, indicating the importance of early thyroid hormone supplementation. In the anterior pituitary, there were fewer growth hormone (GH) and prolactin (PRL) cells in grt mice than in normal mice as examined at 12 weeks after birth, but the numbers of these cells did not differ from those in normal mice after 24 weeks. Grt mice had more TSH cells than normal mice until 48 weeks. Plasma GH levels in grt mice were lower than those in normal mice at 2 weeks, but did not differ substantially after 5 weeks. Compared with normal mice, grt mice had significantly lower plasma PRL and thyroxine levels, but notably higher TSH levels until 48 weeks. These findings indicate that thyroid hormone deficiency in grt mice causes delayed development and growth, and inappropriate development of GH, PRL and TSH cells, followed by the abnormal secretion of hormones by these pituitary cells.
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Vol. 38 • No. 3