Placenta-derived hormones including growth hormone (GH) in humans contribute to maternal adaptation to pregnancy, and intermittent maternal GH administration increases foetal growth in several species. Both patterns and abundance of circulating GH are important for its activity, but their changes during pregnancy have only been reported in humans and rats. The aim of the present study was to characterise circulating profiles and secretory characteristics of GH in non-pregnant female mice and throughout murine pregnancy. Circulating GH concentrations were measured in whole blood (2 μL) collected every 10 min for 6 h in non-pregnant diestrus female C57Bl/6J mice (n = 9), and pregnant females at day 8.5–9.5 (early pregnancy, n = 8), day 12.5–13.5 (mid-pregnancy, n = 7) and day 17.5 after mating (late pregnancy, n = 7). Kinetics and secretory patterns of GH secretion were determined by deconvolution analysis, while orderliness and regularity of serial GH concentrations were calculated by approximate entropy analysis. Circulating GH was pulsatile in all groups. Mean circulating GH and total and basal GH secretion rates increased markedly from early to mid-pregnancy, and then remained elevated. Pulse frequency and pulsatile GH secretion rate were similar between groups. The irregularity of GH pulses was higher in all pregnant groups than that in non-pregnant mice. Increased circulating GH in murine pregnancy is consistent with an important role for this hormone in maternal adaptation to pregnancy and placental development. The timing of increased basal secretion from mid-pregnancy, concurrent with the formation of the chorioallantoic placenta and initiation of maternal blood flow through it, suggests regulation of pituitary secretion by placenta-derived factors.
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- Growth hormone