1. Growth hormone may influence cardiac growth during post-natal maturation or in response to hypertension, and the growth-hormone deficient dwarf rat model offers an opportunity to study this question.

2. We compared the blood pressure and heart weight of dwarf rats and Fischer (F344) control rats in early adulthood, after two hypertensive stimuli: unilateral renal ischaemia (two-kidney, one-clip) or the administration of deoxycorticosterone acetate and saline drinking fluid.

3. In untreated animals at 13 weeks of age the body weight of dwarf rats was significantly less than that of F344 rats, but the mean arterial pressure was similar. Although the hearts of dwarf rats were smaller than those of F344 rats, the heart weight/body weight ratio was significantly greater in dwarf rats.

4. Both dwarf and F344 rats developed similar hypertensive mean arterial pressures 5 weeks after left renal artery clipping or treatment with deoxycorticosterone acetate salt. The heart weights of hypertensive dwarf and F344 rats were equivalent, indicating a proportionally greater increase in cardiac size in dwarf rats for the same rise in blood pressure.

5. The plasma insulin-like growth factor-I level was markedly lower in dwarf than in F344 rats, and hypertension did not have any significant effects on these levels.

6. These findings indicate that the developmental increase in blood pressure and heart size in growing animals and the adaptive cardiac hypertrophy accompanying hypertension are not affected by growth hormone deficiency.

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