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H Norrelund, S Nielsen, JS Christiansen, JO Jorgensen, and N Moller

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The metabolic response to fasting involves an increase in circulating levels of growth hormone (GH) and free fatty acids, and resistance to insulin's actions on glucose metabolism. Stimulation of lipolysis and insulin resistance are well-described effects of GH. The present study was designed to test the degree to which the insulin antagonistic effects of GH on glucose metabolism are mediated through stimulation of lipolysis during fasting. METHODS: Seven normal subjects were examined on three occasions during a 40-h fast with infusion of somatostatin, insulin and glucagon for the final 18 h: (expt. i) with GH replacement, (expt. ii) with GH replacement and antilipolysis with acipimox, and (expt. iii) without GH and with antilipolysis. RESULTS: Basal glucose turnover was significantly reduced by addition of acipimox (rate of disappearance (Rd) glucose (mg/kg/min): 1.91+/-0.08 (expt. i), 1.69+/-0.05 (expt. ii), 1.61+/-0.08 (expt. iii); P<0.01), whereas insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was significantly increased (glucose infusion rate (M-value) (mg/kg/min): 1.66+/-0.22 (expt. i), 2.47+/-0.10 (expt. ii), 2.00+/-0.31 (expt. iii); P<0.05). Addition of GH during inhibition of lipolysis failed to affect basal and insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism significantly. CONCLUSION: Thus, the present data provide strong evidence that the insulin antagonistic effects of GH on fasting glucose metabolism are causally linked to concomitant stimulation of lipolysis.

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N. Møller, J. O. L. Jørgensen, J. Møller, L. Ørskov, N. Pørksen, K. G. M. M. Alberti, and O. Schmitz


There is evidence that hyperketonemia in insulin-dependent diabetes may be aggravated by a decreased disposal rate for ketone bodies. To test the hypothesis that this decrease may be induced by concomitant hyperglycemia through substrate competition at the acetyl-CoA level, 5 young insulin-dependent diabetic subjects received at 2-h iv infusion of 0.9 mmol 3-hydroxybutyrate · kg−1 · h−1 at clamped 1. euglycemia (5 mmol/l) and 2. hyperglycemia (11 mmol/l) on separate occasions. To ensure similar metabolic conditions, a low-dose hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp was performed during the 5 h preceding the actual studies. Substrate fluxes in muscle were assessed through the forearm technique. The glucose infusion rate was 4.9 and 2.9 mg· kg−1·min−1, and the forearm arteriovenous difference for glucose was 0.72 during hyperglycemia and 0.39 mmol/l (p<0.05). during euglycemia. Hyperglycemia did not affect circulating levels of free insulin, glucagon, nonesterified fatty acids, 3-hydroxybutyrate (hyperglycemia: 665, euglycemia: 770 μmol/l, p>0.05) or acetoacetate, nor forearm uptake of 3-hydroxybutyrat (hyperglycemia, 152, euglycemia: 168 μmol/l, p>0.05). In conclusion, our results do not suggest any inhibitory role for hyperglycemia in the disposal of ketone bodies. In as much as extrapolation from the present well insulinized state is appropriate, the data indicate that alternative mechanisms may be involved in the observed impairment of ketone body clearance in hyperketonemic insulin-dependent diabetic patients.

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R Dall, J Kanaley, TK Hansen, N Moller, JS Christiansen, H Hosoda, K Kangawa, and JO Jorgensen

OBJECTIVE: To characterise plasma levels of the recently identified endogenous ligand for the GH secretagogue receptor (ghrelin) during submaximal aerobic exercise in healthy adults and in GH-deficient adults. DESIGN: Eight healthy males (mean+/-s.e. age, 40.8+/-2.9 years) and eight hypopituitary males with verified GH deficiency (mean+/-s.e. age, 40.8+/-4.7 years) underwent a baseline test of their peak aerobic capacity (VO(2) peak) and lactate threshold (LT) on a cycle ergometer, as well as an evaluation of body composition. The patients were then studied on two occasions in random order when they exercised for 45 min at their LT. On one occasion, GH replacement had been discontinued from the evening before, whereas on the other occasion they received their evening GH in addition to an intravenous infusion of GH (0.4 IU) during exercise the following day. The healthy subjects exercised at their LT on one occasion without GH. RESULTS: The patients were significantly more obese and had lower VO(2) max (corrected for body weight) and LT as compared with the control subjects. Exercise induced a peak in serum GH concentrations after 45 min in the control group (11.43+/-3.61 microg/l). Infusion of GH in the patients resulted in a peak level after 45 min, whereas no increase was detected when exercising without GH (9.77+/-2.40 (GH) vs 0.11+/-0.07 microg/l (no GH)). Plasma ghrelin levels did not change significantly with time in either study, and no correlations were detected between ghrelin levels and parameters such as GH and IGF-I levels, age or body composition. Plasma ghrelin levels were significantly lower during the study period with GH as compared with the study with no GH. CONCLUSIONS: Submaximal aerobic exercise of an intensity sufficient to stimulate GH release was not associated with significant alterations in plasma ghrelin concentrations, which indicated that systemic ghrelin is not involved in the exercise-induced stimulation of GH secretion. The observation that ghrelin levels were lower during GH replacement suggests that GH may feedback-inhibit systemic ghrelin release.

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E T Vestergaard, T K Hansen, S Nielsen, N Moller, J S Christiansen, and J O L Jorgensen

Objective: The regulation and function of systemic ghrelin levels appear to be associated with food intake and energy balance rather than GH. Since GH, in turn, acutely induces lipolysis and insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, we aimed to study the isolated and combined effects of GH, free fatty acids (FFAs) and insulin sensitivity on circulating ghrelin levels in human subjects.

Design: Seven GH-deficient patients (aged 37 ± 4 years (mean ± s.e.)) were studied on four occasions in a 2 × 2 factorial design with and without GH substitution and with and without administration of acipimox, which lowers FFA levels by inhibition of the hormone-sensitive lipase, in the basal state and during a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp.

Results: Serum FFA levels decreased with acipimox administration irrespective of GH status. The GH-induced reduction in insulin sensitivity was countered by acipimox. Fasting ghrelin levels decreased insignificantly during GH administration alone, but were reduced by 33% during co-administration of GH and acipimox (Aci) (in ng/l): 860 ± 120 (−GH − Aci), 711 ± 130 (−GH + Aci), 806 ± 130 (+GH − Aci), 574 ± 129 (+GH + Aci), P < 0.01. The clamp was associated with a further, moderate lowering of ghrelin. GH and acipimox induced a reciprocal 25% increase in serum leptin levels (μg/l): 11.2 ± 4.4 (−GH − Aci), 11.7 ± 4.4 (−GH + Aci), 11.5 ± 4.4 (+GH − Aci), 13.9 ± 4.2 (+GH + Aci), P = 0.005.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that antilipolysis via suppression of the hormone-sensitive lipase in combination with GH administration is associated with significant and reciprocal changes in ghrelin and leptin.