Loss of growth hormone-dependent characteristics of rat hepatocytes in culture

David W. Crabb, Janet Roepke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations


The liver of rodents is sexually differentiated, i.e. the female liver differs from the male liver. This differentiation is largely controlled by the pattern of growth hormone (GH) secretion. We have attempted to maintain GH-dependent differentiation of cultured rat hepatocytes. We examined the level of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity, which responds to GH and is higher in female than in male liver, and the estrogen receptor, which is dependent on GH but is present in equal amounts in males and females. ADH activity was maintained in cells from male rats, but fell by 40% in cells from females in medium supplemented with insulin and dexamethasone. The estrogen receptor content of female cells fell dramatically to undetectable levels within 2 d of culture. Extensive supplementation of the medium failed to prevent the decrease in ADH activity in female cells; similarly, the addition of female sex steroids; rat serum; pituitary extracts; rat, human, or bovine GH; or ovine prolactin failed to maintain the enzyme activity. Insulin, dexamethasone, thyroid hormone plus GH or prolactin, or the combination of all five hormones also failed to prevent the loss of estrogen receptors. Short-term cultures of rat hepatocytes, although retaining the liver-specific expression of ADH at the male level, lose GH-dependent expression of the estrogen receptor and stimulation of ADH activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-307
Number of pages5
JournalIn Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1987


  • alcohol dehydrogenase
  • cultured hepatocytes
  • estrogen receptor
  • growth hormone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Medicine(all)

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