Sex change in cytochrome P-450 phenotype by growth hormone treatment of adult rat hepatocytes maintained in a culture system on matrigel

P. S. Guzelian, D. Li, E. G. Schuetz, P. Thomas, W. Levin, A. Mode, J. A. Gustafsson

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Results of studies of hypophysectomized rats suggest that growth hormone serves as a final common mediator through which gonadal steroids and other modifiers of pituitary function alter the expression of gender-specific liver genes such as the sexually dimorphic pair of cytochrome P-450 isozymes, male-specific P-450h and female-specific P-450i. We tested the effects of growth hormone in a system for primary monolayer culture of adult rat hepatocytes on a laminin-rich extracellular matrix (matrigel), which permits sustained expression of both constitutive and inducible liver genes in a chemically defined medium. Cultures of freshly isolated hepatocytes prepared from untreated male rats and samples of the intact donor liver contained readily detectable quantities of immunoreactive P-450h protein (measured on immunoblots of cell microsomes) and P-450h mRNA (measured on Northern blots of cellular RNA). Neither P-450i immunoreactive protein nor P-450i mRNA were present. Addition of physiologic concentrations of human or bovine growth hormone, but not of prolactin, to culture medium lacking insulin or other hormones resulted in prompt induction of P-450i immunoreactive protein and P-450i mRNA. Induction of P-450i mRNA in male hepatocyte cultures was dependent on the concentration of growth hormone, required as little as 24 hr of exposure, and was markedly attenuated in cultures maintained on type I collagen rather than on matrigel. Growth hormone treatment also induced the level of mRNA for insulin-like growth factor I, whereas the amount of mRNA for the male-specific urinary protein α2μ-globulin was unaffected. Cultures of hepatocytes derived from untreated adult female rats retained high levels of P-450i mRNA but only if the culture medium contained growth hormone. None of the tested treatments with estrogens, androgens, glucocorticoids, or growth hormone induced P-450h mRNA or P-450h immunoreactive protein in cultures of female hepatocytes. We conclude that the somatogenic effects of growth hormone acting alone and directly on the hepatocyte in culture are sufficient to 'feminize' the cytochrome P-450 phenotype. The present culture system offers a way to explore the molecular basis for hormonal control of liver gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9783-9788
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - 1988

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