Influence of maternal dexamethasone treatment on morphometric characteristics of pituitary GH cells and body weight in near-term rat fetuses
Sekulić, Milka I.
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Growth hormone (GH) and glucocorticoids have a powerful influence on controlling fetal growth, differentiation and maturation of numerous tissues. In the present study, the effect of maternal dexamethasone (Dx) treatment on GH cells and body weight in 19- and 21-day-old rat fetuses was investigated using immunocytochemical and morphometric methods. Pregnant female rats received daily injections of 1.0-0.5-0.5 mg Dx/kg b.w. on days 16-18 of pregnancy (experimental group), while the control group received an equal volume of saline. Dx treatment of pregnant rats enhanced immunostaining intensity and significantly increased (p < 0.05) GH nuclear and cell volume, as well as volume density and number of GH cells per square millimeter in 19-day-old fetuses compared to the controls. In 21-day-old fetuses after maternal Dx administration, immunoreactivity, volume density and number of GH cells remained significantly increased (p < 0.05). Dx treatment of pregnant rats resulted in marked body weight reduction of 21-day-old but not 19 days old fetuses in comparison with the corresponding controls. The presented results demonstrate that maternal Dx application has pronounced effect on morphometric parameters of GH cells of 19- and 21-day-old fetuses. Also, in near-term rat fetuses body weight was largely independent of pituitary GH cell activity.