In order to elucidate potential sites of direct GH action on the kidney, we used in situ hybridization to localize GH receptor (GHR) gene expression during the course of development and in the adult rat. In order to illuminate potential interactions between GH and insulinlike growth factor-I (IGF-I) in regulating renal function, we compared the anatomical localization of GHR messenger RNA (mRNA) with that for the IGF-I receptor and for IGF-I in the rat kidney. Low levels of GHR mRNA were present in the kidney from before birth and increased in abundance until postnatal day 40. Hypophysectomy resulted in a decrease and GH treatment resulted in an increase in renal GHR mRNA levels. Renal GHR mRNA was most abundant in the proximal straight tubule, with lesser levels present in the medullary thick ascending limb (MTAL), and it was not detected in the glomerulus or inner medulla. In contrast, IGF-I receptor mRNA was concentrated in the glomerulus, distal nephron, and collecting system. The only point of convergence for GHR and IGF-I receptor mRNAs was in the MTAL, where IGF-I mRNA was localized. This segregation of GHR and IGF-I receptor gene expression in the kidney suggests that each hormone has distinct spheres of action along the nephron, with GH acting directly on the proximal straight tubule, whereas IGF-I may act on the glomerulus, distal nephron, and collecting duct. GHR expression in the MTAL, which is the site of renal IGF-I synthesis, supports the view that GH has a direct effect on renal IGF-I synthesis. Finally, it appears that in the kidney, as in other GH-sensitive tissues, GH may regulate its receptor levels.
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