Growth hormone (GH) and GH-releasing hormone (GHRH), in addition to metabolic and endocrine effects, play a role in the modulation of pain and inflammation. We aimed to elucidate the consequences of GHRH deficiency on acute nociceptive stimulation and on both acute and chronic inflammatory stimuli in a mouse model of GH deficiency. Mice with generalized ablation of the GHRH gene (GHRH knock out, GHRHKO, -/-) were compared to wild type (GHRH +/+) mice. Responsiveness to acute nociceptive stimulation and to acute inflammatory stimulation was evaluated by conventional hot plate apparatus and formalin test, respectively. We also evaluated responsiveness to colonic inflammation induced both in vivo, after dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) treatment, or ex vivo, by incubating colon segments with bacterial lipopolysaccaride (LPS). Macroscopical and histological examinations were performed, prostaglandin (PG) E2 and 8-iso-PGF2α levels and cyclooxigenase (COX)-2 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α gene expression were measured. Compared to controls, -/- mice showed decreased response latency during the hot plate test, and increased licking/biting time in formalin test, particularly in the second phase of inflammation. DSS treated -/- mice showed a significant increase of colonic inflammation compared to controls. Moreover DSS treatment increased PGE2 and 8-iso-PGF2α levels, along with COX-2 and TNF-α gene expression more markedly in colon specimens of -/- mice compared to controls. LPS-induced PGE2 and 8-iso-PGF2α production from colonic segments incubated ex vivo was also increased in -/- mice. Generalized GHRH gene ablation increases sensitivity to thermal pain and both acute and persistent inflammatory stimuli in male mice.
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