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Immunomodulatory approaches for regulation of growth and body composition

  • D.J. Flint (a1)


Hormonal growth promoters (growth hormone (GH), β-adrenergic agonists, steroids) which improve growth rate and/or lean: fat ratios in the carcass have received considerable adverse publicity and are either banned or have no licence for their use in countries of the European Community. This has led to the development of a number of techniques, involving the use of antibodies, aimed at regulating metabolic processes involved in determining growth and body composition.

A number of these approaches have focused upon the GH axis, for example immunoneutralization of somatostatin (which normally inhibits GH secretion) to improve growth, the use of antibodies to GH which can enhance its effects in vivo and the development of antibodies which mimic the actions of GH. Although immunization against somatostatin has led to increased growth rates in a number of studies other studies have failed to demonstrate such an effect. A precise understanding of the mechanism of action of this approach is required before we can begin to understand why success is not assured. Antibodies which enhance GH action clearly do work reproducibly but the major problem in developing this approach is to produce an inexpensive peptide immunogen (its sequence derived from GH) which can be used to actively immunize animals so that their own antibodies enhance endogenous GH activity. Anti-idiotypic mimics of GH have also been produced which have GH actions in vivo but again this approach is of limited value until appropriate vaccines can be developed.

A different approach to the problem of excess fat deposition involves the use of antibodies directed against the plasma membranes of adipocytes in order to elicit their destruction and thereby limit the storage capacity for fat. This technique has been demonstrated in rats, sheep and pigs in both passive and active immunization techniques. Once again, however, this promising approach is limited by the lack of a commercially suitable vaccine. The identification of individual membrane proteins which are antigenic has been achieved and this provides the prospect of producing recombinant DNA-derived vaccines.

Whether these new approaches will be perceived as acceptable to the general public remains a serious concern and a potential limitation to their development as many would-be sponsors cut back their support for research in these areas.



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Immunomodulatory approaches for regulation of growth and body composition

  • D.J. Flint (a1)


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