A single oral dose of 5 g gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) was given to 19 subjects and serial venous blood samples were obtained before and 3 h after drug administration. A placebo was administered to 18 subjects who served as controls. GABA caused a significant elevation of plasma growth hormone levels (P < 0.001), but did not consistently alter plasma prolactin concentration since only 5 out of 15 subjects showed an increase of the hormone. Eight additional subjects were submitted to an insulin tolerance test before and after per os administration of 18 g GABA daily for 4 days. Protracted GABA treatment significantly blunted the response of growth hormone and enhanced that of prolactin to insulin hypoglycaemia (P < 0.01).
These results indicate that pharmacological doses of GABA affect growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man. The precise nature of GABA's effects as well as its mechanism of action remains to be clarified.