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AN Moulas, Krieg RJ Jr, JD Veldhuis, and JC Chan

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of repeated treatments with the growth hormone secretagogue (GHS) L-163,255 on the pulsatile release of GH when administered in meal-fed rats before and after feeding. DESIGN: The first group of rats (AL, n=6) had food available ad libitum. The second (restricted, R, n=6), third (GHSB, n=6), and fourth (GHSA, n=6) groups were fed from 1100 to 1400 h. Groups GHSB and GHSA were given GHS by gavage, 3.0 mg/kg L-163,255, at 1000 h (before feeding, B) and at 1500 h (after feeding, A) respectively. Three weeks after the initiation of the treatment, blood samples were collected at 10-min intervals over 6 h, and GH levels were determined. RESULTS: In group R, the concentrations of GH were higher before feeding (17.6+/-2.4 ng/ml) than during feeding (11.2+/-1.2 ng/ml), P<0.05. The average concentrations of the peak in response to GHS were higher when GHS was administered before (121.70+/-33.68 ng/ml) than after (49.67+/-17.87 ng/ml) feeding. The mass of GH, as calculated by deconvolution analysis was also higher in the GHSB group than in the GHSA group (251.6+/-64.1 ng/ml per min vs 85.3+/-22.9 ng/ml per min respectively, P<0.05). CONCLUSION: L-163,255 is effective in inducing GH release after repeated oral administration in rats. The effectiveness is greater when GHS is administered before rather than after feeding in meal-fed animals.

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T Mulligan, A Iranmanesh, R Kerzner, LW Demers, and JD Veldhuis

OBJECTIVE: To examine the possibility that lower serum bioavailable testosterone concentrations, without increased LH release, in healthy older men, reflects hypothalamic GnRH deficiency. DESIGN: We used a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design. METHODS: We treated each of five young (ages 20-34 years) and five older (ages 60-78 years) men with 2 weeks of randomized infusions of saline or pulsatile GnRH (100 ng/kg i.v. every 90 min). RESULTS: At baseline (saline infusion), older men had more LH pulses (young compared with old, 10 +/- 0.6 compared with 15 +/- 1, P = 0.0026) per 24h, reduced fractional LH pulse amplitude (219 +/- 17% compared with 167 +/- 40%, P = 0.0376), and more disorderly hormone release as judged by approximate entropy (ApEn) (LH, P < or = 0.0001; testosterone, P < or = 0.0047). In response to pulsatile i.v. GnRH infusions, serum 24-h LH concentrations (measured by immunoradiometric assay (IRMA)), increased equivalently in young and older men (to 7.3 +/- 1.2 and 7.2 +/- 1.8 IU/l respectively). GnRH treatment also normalized LH pulse frequency and amplitude, ApEn, and plasma biologically active LH (pooled) concentrations. In contrast, 24-h testosterone concentrations failed to increase equivalently in older men (young compared with old, 869 +/- 88 compared with 517 +/- 38 ng/dl, P = 0.0061), reflecting lower testosterone peak maxima (995 +/- 108 compared with 583 +/- 48 ng/dl, P = 0.0083) and interpeak nadirs (750 +/- 87 compared with 427 +/- 26 ng/dl, P = 0.0073). CONCLUSIONS: We have demonstrated that, in older men, successful reconstitution of 24-h pituitary (bioactive) LH output and pulsatile (IRMA) LH release patterns could be achieved by a fixed exogenous GnRH pulse signal, thereby implicating altered endogenous hypothalamic GnRH release in the relative hypogonadotropism of aging. The failure of testosterone concentrations to increase concomitantly points to a simultaneous Leydig cell defect. We conclude that aging in men is marked by a dual defect in the central nervous system-pituitary-Leydig cell axis.

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K Friend, A Iranmanesh, IS Login, and JD Veldhuis

Growth hormone (GH) release from the anterior pituitary gland is predominantly regulated by the two antagonistic hypothalamic peptides, growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) and somatostatin. Appraising endogenous GHRH action is thus made difficult by the confounding effects of (variable) hypothalamic somatostatin inhibitory tone. Accordingly, to evaluate endogenous GHRH actions, we used a clinical model of presumptively acute endogenous somatostatin withdrawal with concomitant GHRH release. To this end, we administered in randomized order placebo or the indirect cholinergic agonist, pyridostigmine, for 48 h to 13 healthy men of varying ages (29-77 years) and body mass indices (21-47 kg/m2). We sampled blood at 10-min intervals for 48 h during both placebo and pyridostigmine (60 mg orally every 6 h) administration, and used an ultrasensitive GH chemiluminescence assay (sensitivity 0.0002-0.005 microgram/l) to capture GH pulse profiles. Multiparameter deconvolution analysis was applied to quantitate the number, amplitude, mass, and duration of significant underlying GH secretory bursts, and simultaneously estimate the GH half-life and concurrent basal GH secretion. Approximate entropy was utilized as a novel regularity statistic to quantify the relative orderliness of the hormone release process. All measures of GH secretion/half-life and orderliness were statistically invariant across the two consecutive 24-h placebo sessions. In contrast, pyridostigmine treatment significantly increased the mean serum GH concentration from 0.23 +/- 0.054 microgram/l during placebo to 0.45 +/- 0.072 microgram/l during the first day of treatment (P < 0.01). There was also a significant rise in the calculated 24-h pulsatile GH production rate from 8.9 +/- 1.7 micrograms/l/day on placebo to 27 +/- 5.6 micrograms/l/day during active drug treatment (P < 0.01). Pyridostigmine significantly and selectively amplified GH secretory burst mass to 1.5 +/- 0.35 micrograms/l compared with 0.74 +/- 0.19 microgram/l on placebo (P < 0.01). This was attributable to stimulation of GH secretory burst amplitude (maximal rate of GH secretion attained within the release episode) with no prolongation of estimated burst duration. Basal GH secretion and approximate entropy were not altered by pyridostigmine. However, age was strongly related to more disorderly GH release during both days of pyridostigmine treatment (r = +0.79, P = 0.0013). During the second 24-h of continued pyridostigmine treatment, most GH secretory parameters decreased by 15-50%, but in several instances remained significantly elevated above placebo. Body mass index, but not age, was a significantly negative correlate of the pyridostigmine-stimulated increase in GH secretion (r = -0.65, P = 0.017). In summary, assuming that somatostatin is withdrawn and (rebound) GHRH release is stimulated via pyridostigmine administration, we infer that relatively unopposed GHRH action principally controls GH secretory burst mass and amplitude, rather than apparent GH secretory pulse duration, the basal GH secretion rate, or the serial regularity/orderliness of the GH release process in the human. Moreover, we infer that increasing age is accompanied by greater disorderliness of somatostatin-withdrawn GHRH, and hence rebound GH, release. The strongly negative correlation between pyridostigmine-stimulated GH secretion and body mass index (but not age) further indicates that increased relative adiposity may result in decreased effective (somatostatin-withdrawn) endogenous GHRH stimulus strength.

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G De Nicolao, D Liberati, JD Veldhuis, and A Sartorio

OBJECTIVE: To reconstruct the instantaneous secretion rate (ISR) of LH and FSH after GnRH administration in normal volunteers using non-parametric deconvolution, and to derive a direct integration formula to evaluate the amount of LH and FSH secreted during the first 60 min after the stimulus. DESIGN AND METHODS: First, the deconvolution method was validated in vivo by reconstructing doses ranging from 7.5 IU to 75 IU injected in three healthy adult volunteers whose endogenous LH had previously been downregulated by pretreating them, 3-4 weeks earlier, with 3.75 mg GnRH agonist i.m. Then, 40 healthy adult male volunteers were tested with a single 100 microg GnRH bolus, administered at 0 min. LH and FSH concentrations were determined at -30, 0, 15, 30, 45, 60, 90, and 120 min. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The validation study, conducted over a 10-fold range of doses, demonstrated that non-parametric deconvolution provided a reasonably accurate estimate of the amount of hormone entering the circulation. Applying deconvolution to the LH and FSH responses to GnRH, the ISRs of both hormones were shown to have a similar pattern, with a clearly delimited pulse after the GnRH bolus. In conjunction with earlier analyses of estimates of GHRH-stimulated GH secretion, we conclude that secretagogues evoke discrete LH, FSH, and GH secretory bursts of about 60 min total duration, despite markedly unequal (glyco-)protein hormone half-lives (18-500 min). With respect to the assessment of total hormone release during the first 60 min after the stimulus, the integration formula provided a reliable approximation of the result obtained by deconvolution, and had a negligible dependence on the samples at times 90 and 120 min.

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RG Veldman, M Frolich, SM Pincus, JD Veldhuis, and F Roelfsema

The episodicity of 24 h leptin release was studied in seven women (mean age 39 years, range 22-56 years) with pituitary-dependent hypercortisolism and in seven age- and body mass index (BMI)-matched female controls. Pulsatile leptin release was quantified by model-free cluster analysis and deconvolution, the orderliness of leptin patterns by the approximate entropy statistic (ApEn), and nyctohemeral leptin rhythmicity by cosinor analysis. Blood samples were taken at 10 min intervals for 24 h. Both cluster and deconvolution analysis revealed 2.4-fold increased leptin secretion in patients, caused by combined and equal amplification of basal and pulsatile secretion. Cluster analysis identified 7.1+/-1.5 peaks per 24 h in patients and 6.0+/-0.5 in controls (not significant). The statistical distribution of the individual sample secretory rates was similarly skewed in patients and controls (0.55+/-0.12 vs 0.52+/-0.07). The acrophase (timing of the nyctohemeral leptin peak) in patients occurred at 2314 h (+/-76 min) and at 0058 h (+/-18 min) in controls (not significant). The approximate entropy of leptin release was equivalent in patients and controls (1.67+/-0.03 vs 1.61+/-0.05). The approximate entropy (ApEn) for cortisol in patients was 1.53+/-0.09 and in controls was 0.93+/-0.07 (P<0.0005). Cross-ApEn showed significant pattern synchrony between leptin and cortisol release, which (unexpectedly) was not disrupted by the cortisol excess (patients, 2.02+/-0.04; controls, 1.88+/-0.09; P=0.233). Insulin levels in fasting patients ('fasting insulin') were 27+/-5.7 mU/l vs 14+/-1.6 mU/l in controls (P=0.035). Leptin secretion correlated with fasting insulin levels (R(2)=0.34, P=0.028) and with the cortisol production rate (R(2)=0.33, P=0.033) when patients and controls were combined. In summary, Cushing's disease in women increases leptin production about twofold in an amplitude-specific way. The pulse-generating, nyctohemeral phase-determining, and entropy-control mechanisms that govern the 24 h leptin release are not altered. The increased secretion is not explained by BMI and is probably only partly explained by increased insulin production, suggesting a cortisol-dependent change in adipose leptin secretion.

Free access

R Salvatori, X Fan, JD Veldhuis, and R Couch

OBJECTIVE: Inactivating mutations of the GH-releasing hormone receptor (GHRHR) gene (GHRHR) cause familial isolated GH deficiency (IGHD) type IB. The GH response to physical exercise (PE) in patients lacking GHRHR has never been studied. We hypothesized that subjects lacking functional GHRHR may be a model to study GH response to PE. DESIGN: We have analyzed peripheral genomic DNA of a family with two sibs affected by IGHD IB for mutations in the GHRHR, studied the patients' GH response to different GH secretagogues and to PE, and examined the morphology of their pituitary gland by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). METHODS: The GHRHR was analyzed by direct sequencing of the 13 exons, intron-exon boundaries, and of the proximal 327 bp of the promoter region in the index case. The patients' GH response to GHRH and standardized PE was studied twice, using a GH ultrasensitive assay in the second round of testing. RESULTS: Both subjects were compound heterozygotes for two previously undescribed mutations in the GHRHR that are predicted to cause complete lack of functional GHRHR protein: a nonsense mutation in codon 43 (Q43X), and a splice mutation at the beginning of intron 3 (IVS3+1G-->A). MRI showed hypoplasia of their anterior pituitaries. Both subjects had a small but detectable increase in serum GH after maximal PE. CONCLUSIONS: GHRHR mutations need to be considered in IGHD IB patients even in the absence of parental consanguinity, and patients lacking GHRHR may provide a model to study the mechanism by which PE influences GH secretion.

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MC Garcia-Rudaz, MG Ropelato, ME Escobar, JD Veldhuis, and M Barontini

The aim of this study was to quantify pulsatile LH secretion, burst frequency and mass, LH half-life, and the approximate entropy (ApEn) or (dis-) orderliness of LH release in adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), combining a high-precision immunofluorimetric LH assay with deconvolution techniques. We sampled LH concentration profiles every 20 min overnight in 12 girls with PCOS (mean +/- S.E.M. age 16.4+/-0.57 years, body mass index (BMI) 24.4+/-1.6 kg/m2) and 11 eumenorrheic early-follicular-phase controls (mean +/- S.E.M. age 16.5+/-0.47 years, BMI 22.2+/-1.0 kg/m2). Fasting serum levels of androstenedione, testosterone, 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP), estrone, estradiol, FSH and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) were determined. Compared with euandrogenic girls, PCOS adolescents had significantly (P<0.005) elevated serum LH/FSH ratios, 17-OHP, androstenedione, esterone and testosterone levels, decreased SHBG, and similar estradiol. PCOS subjects exhibited a 3-fold higher mean serum LH concentration with almost no overlap with controls (8.8+/-1.2 and 2.8+/-0.3 IU/l respectively, P<0.001). We initially used a conventional serum hormone concentration peak analysis method (Cluster) to evaluate the characteristics of pulsatile LH release. Cluster analysis disclosed a significant increase in serum LH concentration maximal peak height, a higher LH peak frequency and a higher mean serum LH concentration in interpulse nadirs in the PCOS group. Deconvolution analysis of mechanisms underlying the foregoing showed higher frequency in the PCOS group than the controls (7.9+/-0.4 and 5.7+/-0.6 pulses/12 h respectively, P<0.05). The mass of LH released per secretory event was also significantly higher in PCOS subjects than controls (5.4+/-0.57 and 3.4+/-0.56 IU/l respectively, P<0.05). Since the pulsatile production rate is the product of the mean mass of hormone secreted per pulse and the number of pulses per day, we estimated a significantly higher mean pulsatile production rate of (endogenous) LH in the PCOS group (41+/-4.2 IU/l per day in the PCOS group vs 18+/-2.3 IU/l per day in the controls, P<0.01). The mean estimated half-life of endogenous LH disappearance was also significantly higher in patients with PCOS than in controls (110+/-8.5 and 77+/-3.7 min respectively, P<0.01). To quantify the orderliness of LH release, we used ApEn. PCOS patients had remarkably increased disorderliness (higher ApEn) of LH release (1.09+/-0.04 vs 0.77+/-0.08 in controls, P = 0.002). Mean serum LH concentration, mass of LH secreted per burst, and LH production rate in PCOS, but not in normal adolescents, correlated positively with androstenedione (P<0.02, 0.02 and 0.05 respectively). The same parameters also correlated positively with 17-OHP (P<0.05, 0.02 and 0.05 respectively). Stepwise regression analysis unmasked a negative influence of BMI in PCOS on both mass of LH secreted per burst (r = -0.77, P<0.005) and LH production rate (r = -0.70, P<+/0.01). We conclude that PCOS adolescents secrete LH molecules with amplified frequency and burst mass and with markedly disrupted orderliness. A rise in basal (non-pulsatile) LH release, more basic LH isoforms, and/or a prolongation or asymmetry of the LH secretory burst could account for the apparently prolonged LH half-life. Determining whether disorderliness of the amplified pituitary LH release process is an intrinsic abnormality in PCOS. or reflects androgen excess, may help to clarify the pathophysiology of this oligo-ovulatory syndrome in young women.

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R Groote Veldman, G van den Berg, SM Pincus, M Frolich, JD Veldhuis, and F Roelfsema

To quantify prolactin (PRL) secretion patterns, ten untreated (female) microprolactinoma patients and six (male) macroprolactinoma patients underwent repetitive blood sampling every 10 min over 24 h. PRL release activity was analyzed from plasma PRL concentration (immunofluorimetric assay) profiles via a model-independent discrete peak detection program (Cluster) and a waveform-independent deconvolution technique (Pulse). Diurnal variations were analyzed by cosinor analysis. The number of distinct PRL pulses (mean +/- S.E.M.) was increased in patients: microprolactinoma 18.6 +/- 0.6/24 h versus female controls 12.4 +/- 0.6 (P = 6.7 x 10-s), and macroprolactinoma 18.0 +/- 0.9 versus male controls 13.5 +/- 0.8/24 h (P = 0.003). In patients, PRL pulse height, amplitude, pulse area and interpeak nadir concentrations were each greatly elevated compared with gender-matched controls. By 2-component deconvolution analysis, the mean nadir PRL secretion rate in microprolactinoma patients was augmented 20-fold at 0.408 +/- 0.089 microgram/l per min versus in female controls 0.019 +/- 0.009 microgram/l per min (P < 0.001); and in macroprolactinoma by 130-fold at 2.067 +/- 0.693 micrograms/l per min versus male controls 0.016 +/- 0.001 microgram/l per min (P = 0.001). Corresponding 24 h mean PRL secretion rates were in women, 0.658 +/- 0.147 and 0.044 +/- 0.018 (P < 0.001), and in men, 3.309 +/- 1.156 and 0.035 +/- 0.010 micrograms/l per min (P = 0.001), being respectively 15- and 94-fold increased in tumors. The estimated PRL production per day was 160 +/- 15 and 187 +/- 20 micrograms in male and female controls respectively. PRL production was 2860 +/- 640 micrograms in female patients with microadenomas (P < 0.001), and 37,800 +/- 5900 micrograms in male macroadenoma patients (P = 0.001). Cosinor analysis of the plasma concentrations revealed a significant rhythm in nine of ten, patients with a microadenoma, and in five of six with a macroadenoma. The same method applied to pulse height and amplitude disclosed a significant rhythm for PRL pulse height, but not for pulse amplitude, suggesting preserved rhythmicity of baseline interpulse nadir PRL concentrations. Approximate entropy (ApEn), a scale- and model-independent regularity statistic, averaged 1.6559 +/- 0.028 in microprolactinoma patients versus 0.8128 +/- 0.079 in female controls (P = 1.7 x 10(-8)); ApEn in macroadenomas was 1.5674 +/- 0.054 versus male controls 0.8773 +/- 0.076 (P = 1.7 x 10(-5), signifying greater secretory irregularity in the patients. Compared with microadenomas, macroadenomas exhibited a higher mean plasma concentration, overall mean PRL secretion rate, nadir secretion rate and pulse area, but similar peak frequency. We conclude that PRL secretion by prolactinomas is characterized by increased plasma PRL episodicity of release, increased total (15- to 100-fold) and basal (20- to 130-fold) secretion rates, and increased disorderlines of minute-to-minute secretion. These abnormalities of secretory control are very similar to those for GH and ACTH identified earlier in acromegaly and Cushing's disease respectively, thus suggesting mechanistic generality of pituitary tumor secretory derangements, independent of the particular hormone.

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G van den Berg, SM Pincus, M Frolich, JD Veldhuis, and F Roelfsema

The episodicity of 24 h GH release was studied in 18 patients with active acromegaly, 12 patients 7-10 days after pituitary surgery, 14 patients long after operation (3-17 years), and 21 healthy gender- and age-matched control subjects, using a recently introduced scale- and model-independent regularity statistic, approximate entropy (ApEn). Blood samples were taken at 10-min intervals for 24 h, and plasma GH concentrations were measured by immunofluorometric assay (detection limit 11.5 ng/l). For this study we selected operated patients who were biochemically in remission, defined by normal circulating IGF-I and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) concentrations, normal glucose-suppressed plasma GH concentration (<0.38 microg/l), and the normalization of the paradoxical rise of GH to TRH or GnRH. In patients with active acromegaly ApEn was 1.23+/-0.04, with no overlap with the control subjects (P = 1.2 x 10[-16]), who had an ApEn of 0.40+/-0.04. ApEn in patients shortly after surgery was 0.71+/-0.09 (P < 0.001 vs controls), and long after surgery 0.56+/-0.05 (P < 0.011 vs controls). ApEn values in treated and untreated patients correlated significantly with the plasma concentration of IGF-I (r=0.531) and IGFBP-3 (r=0.598), and the log-transformed 24h GH secretion rate (r=0.749). Shortly after surgery only one-third of the patients had a normal ApEn value, whereas long after surgery about 70% of the patients had a normal ApEn value. Although ApEn eventually normalized in about 70% of the operated patients, the cause of the persistence of abnormal GH release in the remainder of the subjects is not known, and might reflect permanent hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction or a very early recurrence of the somatotroph adenoma.