Pulsatile growth hormone secretion in patients with acromegaly and normal men: The effects of growth hormone-releasing hormone infusion

Marie C. Gelato, Edward Oldfield, D. Lynn Loriaux, George R. Merriam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Twenty-four GH secretory patterns were studied before and during continuous infusions of GHRH in six patients with active acromegaly and in six normal adult men. GH release was episodic in both groups. Control subjects showed a normal diurnal variation in GH release, with the majority of GH released at night (2200-0800 h); mean levels were 1.5 ± 0.4 (SE) ng/mL (day) and 4.2 ± 0.8 ng/mL (night). Acromegalics had no diurnal variation in GH; levels were 45.3 ± 13.7 ng/mL (day) and 39.8 ± 12.2 ng/mL (night). Acromegalics demonstrated an increased frequency of GH pulses compared to normals (11.8 ± 0.8 vs. 2.2 ± 0.3/24 h). During continuous 24-h infusions of GHRH, the normal subjects continued to show a diurnal variation in GH release, but GH pulse frequency increased to a rate (11.7 ± 1.4 pulses/24 h) very similar to that of the patients with acromegaly. In contrast, GHRH infusion did not alter the GH pulse frequency in the acromegalics. GHRH increased the mean levels of GH in both groups (patients 80.2 ± 20.3 vs. 41.0 ± 12.1 ng/mL, x ± SE. P < 0.05; controls 10.2 ± 2.0 vs. 3.33 ± 0.5 ng/mL, P < 0.01). Some of the patients with acromegaly showed a progressive decline in GH levels during the infusion period, suggesting desensitization or exhaustion of releaseable stores; however, GH levels remained above basal values in all patients. After the 24-h GHRH infusions, the GH response to a bolus of GHRH was diminished in the normal subjects (2.1 ± 0.9 vs. 16.8 ± 5 ng/mL, x ± SE; P < 0.01) but not in the acromegalic patients (30.2 ± 8.9 vs. 35.5 ± 12.5 ng/mL; NS). These results indicate that GH release is episodic under basal conditions and during continuous GHRH infusion in both acromegalic and normal subjects, indicating the importance of other modulators of GH release, such as somatostatin, which may remain pulsatile even in acromegaly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-590
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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