Alterations in the pulsatile mode of growth hormone release in men and women with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus

Christopher M. Asplin, Amilton C.S. Faria, Elisabeth C. Carlsen, Veronica A. Vaccaro, Richard E. Barr, Ali Iranmanesh, Mary M. Lee, Johannes D. Veldhuis, William S. Evans

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139 Scopus citations


The mechanisms responsible for the elevated levels of circulating GH observed in diabetes mellitus (DM) remain incompletely defined. To assess the episodic fluctuations in serum GH as a reflection of hypothalamic-pituitary activity, we accumulated GH concentration-time series in a total of 48 adult men and women with and without insulin-dependent DM by obtaining serum samples at 10-min intervals over 24 h. Significant pulses of GH release were subsequently identified and characterized by an objective, statistically based pulse detection algorithm (Cluster) and fixed circadian (24-h) periodicities of secretory activity, resolved using Fourier expansion timeseries analysis. Compared to those in age-matched controls, integrated 24-h concentrations of GH were 2- to 3.5-fold higher in diabetic men (P = 0.002) and women (P = 0.0005). Both men and women with DM had over 50% more GH pulses per 24 h than their non- DM counterparts. In addition, maximal GH pulse amplitude was markedly elevated in the men and women with DM (P = 0.0019 and 0.0189, respectively). That the increase in maximal pulse amplitude was accounted for by greater baseline levels was documented by a higher interpulse valley mean GH concentration in the diabetics compared to the controls (P = 0.0437 and 0.0056, men and women, respectively) and the absence of any difference in incremental pulse amplitude for either sex (P > 0.05). DM men had larger GH pulse areas (P = 0.039) than control men, apparently accounted for by greater pulse width (P = 0.0037). Pulse areas in DM and non-DM women were indistinguishable. Time-series analysis revealed that the 24-h (circadian) rhythms of serum GH concentrations exhibited significantly increased amplitudes in the diabetic group as a whole (compared to the controls, P = 0.011). However, the times of maximal GH concentrations (acrophases) were not significantly different. As a group, serum insulin-like growth factor-I was lower in DM vs. non-DM individuals (P = 0.0014), although when separated by sex this difference did not reach statistical significance in women (P = 0.317). The present data confirm the higher circulating levels of GH previously reported to occur in individuals with poorly controlled DM. The altered frequency of GH pulses together with enhanced interpulse GH concentrations and an amplified circadian GH rhythm are compatible with hypothalamic dysfunction associated with dysregulation of somatostatin and/or GHRH secretion. Since similar patterns in GH concentration-time series can be seen in non-DM men during fasting, a specific nutrient and/ or metabolic derangement rather than diabetes per se may contribute to this abnormality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-245
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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