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E Ghigo, E Arvat, G Rizzi, S Goffi, S Grottoli, M Mucci, MF Boghen and F Camanni

Ghigo E, Arvat E, Rizzi G, Goffi S, Grottoli S, Mucci M, Boghen MF, Camanni F. Growth hormonereleasing activity of growth hormone-releasing peptide-6 is maintained after short-term oral pretreatment with the hexapeptide in normal aging. Eur J Endocrinol 1994;131:499–503. ISSN 0804–4643

The reduced activity of the growth hormone (GH)–insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) axis in aging may contribute to changes in body composition. As this GH insufficiency is due to hypothalamic pathogenesis, the availability of GH-releasing peptides (GHRPs), such as GHRP-6 (His-d-Trp-Ala-Trp-d-Phe-Lys-NH2) which is active even after oral administration, might be useful to restore it. The aim of our study was to verify the effectiveness of oral administration of GHRP-6 in normal elderly subjects and to investigate whether its GH-releasing activity is maintained or vanishes after short-term oral treatment. Seven normal elderly women (aged 65–82 years) were studied. The effect of oral administration of 300 μg/kg GHRP-6 on GH secretion was investigated before and after 4 days of treatment with the hexapeptide given twice daily. The GH response to the maximal effective dose of GHRH (1 μg/kg iv) also was studied. Before treatment, oral administration of 300 μg/kg GHRP-6 elicited a clear GH rise (peak 10.7 ± 3.3 μg/l; AUC 353.1 ± 90.6 μg·l−1·h−1). which was significantly higher (p < 0.01) than that induced by intravenous GHRH (peak 5.1 ± 1.5 μg/l; AUC 106.5 ±43.9 μg · l−1·h−1). After 4 days of treatment with GHRP-6, the GH response to the hexapeptide was maintained, with a trend towards an increase (peak 16.8 ± 2.9 μg/l; AUC 499.8 ± 107.2 μg·l−1·h−1). The IGF-I levels were not increased significantly after treatment (77.1 ± 8.4 vs 84.1 ± 12.2 μg/l). In conclusion, our results demonstrate that, in aging, oral GHRP-6 administration elicits a GH response that is higher than the maximal effective dose of intravenous GHRH and that the effect of the hexapeptide does not vanish after short-term treatment. More prolonged treatment and/or more frequent administrations of GHRP-6 are likely needed to increase IGF-I levels.

F Camanni, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Pathophysiology, Ospedale Molinette, Dogliotti 14, 10126 Torino, Italy

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E. Ghigo, S. Goffi, E. Arvat, M. Nicolosi, M. Procopio, J. Bellone, E. Imperiale, E. Mazza, G. Baracchi and F. Camanni


In 11 elderly normal subjects and in 17 young healthy subjects we studied the response of plasma growth hormone to GH-releasing hormone (GHRH(29), 1 μg/kg iv) alone and preceded by pyridostigmine ( 120 mg orally 60 min before GHRH), a cholinesterase inhibitor likely able to suppress somatostatin release. The GH response to pyridostigmine alone was also examined. Basal plasma GH levels were similar in elderly and young subjects. In the elderly, GHRH induced a GH rise (AUC, median and range: 207.5, 43.5-444.0 μg · 1−1 · h−1) which was lower (p = 0.006) than that observed in young subjects (548.0, 112.5-2313.5 μg · 1−1 · h−1). The pyridostigmine-induced GH rise in the elderly was similar to that in young subjects (300.5, 163.0-470.0 vs 265.0, 33.0-514.5 μg · 1−1 · h−1). Pyridostigmine potentiated the GH responsiveness to GHRH in both elderly (437.5, 152.0-1815.5 μg · 1−1 · h−1; p = 0.01 vs GHRH alone) and young subjects (2140.0, 681.5-4429.5 μg · 1−1 · h−1; p = 0.0001 vs GHRH alone). However, the GH response to pyridostigmine + GHRH was significantly lower (p = 0.0001) in elderly than in young subjects. In conclusion, the cholinergic enhancement by pyridostigmine is able to potentiate the blunted GH response to GHRH in elderly subjects, inducing a GH increase similar to that observed after GHRH alone in young adults. This finding suggests that an alteration of somatostatinergic tone could be involved in the reduced GH secretion in normal aging. However, a decreased GH response to combined administration of pyridostigmine and GHRH in elderly subjects suggests that other abnormalities may coexist, leading to the secretory hypoactivity of somatotropes.

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E Ghigo, GP Ceda, R Valcavi, S Goffi, M Zini, M Mucci, G Valenti, EE Muller and F Camanni

Ghigo E, Ceda GP, Valcavi R, Goffi S, Zini M, Mucci M, Valenti G, Muller EE, Camanni F. Effect of 15-day treatment with growth hormone-releasing hormone alone or combined with different doses of arginine on the reduced somatotrope responsiveness to the neurohormone in normal aging. Eur J Endocrinol 1995;132:32–6. ISSN 0804–4643

It is well known that both spontaneous and growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH)-stimulated GH secretion undergo an age-related decrease; in addition, there is supportive evidence that the GH hyposecretory state of aging is of hypothalamic origin. The aims of the study in 35 normal elderly subjects (20 males and 15 females aged 65–89 years) were to verify whether the low somatotrope responsiveness to GHRH (1 μg/kg) can be primed by a daily GHRH treatment and whether the potentiating effect of both high intravenous (0.5 g/kg) and low oral (8 g) doses of arginine (ARG) on GH response to GHRH is maintained with time. In group A (N = 14) the GH response to GHRH on day 1 (AUC: 373.5 ± 78.5 μg·1−1·h−1) was unchanged after 7 (3720 ± 38 μg·1−1·h−1) and 15 days (377.9 ± 63.8 μg·1−1·h−1) of daily GHRH administration. In group B (N = 6) the GH response to GHRH co-administered with iv ARG on day 1 (1614.2 ± 146.2 μg · 1−1 · h−1) was higher (p < 0.05) than that of GHRH alone (group A) and persisted unchanged after 7 (1514.7±366.5 μg·1−1·h−1) and 15 days (1631.7 ± 379.1 μg · 1−1 · h−1) of treatment. In group C (N = 15) the GH response to GHRH co-administered with oral ARG on day 1 (950.6 ± 219.4 μg·1−1 · h−1) was higher (p < 0.03) than that of GHRH alone (group A) but lower (p < 0.05) than that to GHRH plus iv ARG (group B). It was unchanged after 7 (816.2 ± 208.5 μg·1−1 · h−1) and 15 days (760.4 ± 165.0 μg · 1−1· h−1) of treatment; these responses were still higher (p < 0.05) than that to GHRH alone. Insulin-like growth factor I levels were not modified by any of the treatments. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that in normal aging the low somatotrope responsiveness to GHRH is not improved by prolonged treatment with the neurohormone but it is enhanced by the combined treatment with ARG and this effect does not vanish after a 15-day treatment period. The effect of ARG is present even after a low oral dose, although less markedly than after a high intravenous dose.

F Camanni, Divisione di Endocrinologia, Ospedale Molinette, C. so Dogliotti 14, 10126 Torino, Italy