Major gender differences exist in the prevalence and severity of various disease states, rates of organ-specific aging and drug and hormone metabolism. Increased understanding of the mechanistic bases for these important sex differences is likely to stimulate new prognostic, therapeutic and diagnostic insights over many succeeding decades. I will outline clinical data that bear on regulatory mechanisms that give rise to sex-based differences in the neuroendocrine activity of the human somatotropic (GH) axis. Such studies have important implications in both pubertal and gonadoprival states, such as aging and the menopause, when the sex-steroid milieu changes dramatically.
Like other neuroendocrine axes, regulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary GH axis in humans and in experimental animals is subject to prominent sex effects (reviewed in Refs. 1–7). For example, most recently we have found, first, that whereas there are profound dependencies of mean (24-h) serum GH concentrations in men on age, body composition (e.g. percentage
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