Effects of sex and age on the 24-hour profile of growth hormone secretion in man: Importance of endogenous estradiol concentrations

K. Y. Ho, W. S. Evans, R. M. Blizzard, J. D. Veldhuis, G. R. Merriam, E. Samojlik, R. Furlanetto, A. D. Rogol, D. L. Kaiser, M. O. Thorner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

785 Scopus citations


We undertook a study of the separate and combined effects of age and sex on the pulsatile pattern of GH secretion. The 24-h secretory profile of GH was generated by 20-min sampling in 10 young women (aged 18-33 yr), 10 young men (aged 18-33 yr), 8 postmenopausal women (aged >55 yr), and 8 older men (aged >55 yr). A computer-assisted pulse analysis program was used to assess both total GH secretion, as reflected in the 24-h integrated GH concentration (IGHC), and pulsatile secretion, as denoted by pulse frequency, duration, amplitude, and the fraction of GH secreted in pulses during the 24-h period (FGHP). IGHC was significantly greater in women than in men (P < 0.025) and greater in the young than in the old (P < 0.003). The mean pulse amplitude, duration, and FGHP were each greater in the young (P < 0.006, P < 0.03, and P < 0.0001, respectively), but not significantly different between the sexes. The mean pulse frequency was not affected by sex or age. The serum concentration of free estradiol, but not free testosterone, correlated with IGHC (r = 0.46; P < 0.005), pulse amplitude (r = 0.53; P < 0.001), and FGHP (r = 0.59; P < 0.0002). After correcting for the effects of estradiol, neither sex nor age influenced IGHC or mean pulse amplitude, while the effect of age on FGHP was reduced from 81% to 29%. Of the indices of GH secretion, FGHP had the strongest correlation (r = 0.43; P < 0.006) with somatomedin-C. Somatomedin-C declined significantly with age in both sexes. Our results indicate that sex and age have independent and interrelated effects on GH secretion. These effects can be largely accounted for by corresponding variations in endogenous estra-diol levels. These observations suggest an amplifying action of estradiol on the neuroendocrine regulation of pulsatile GH release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-58
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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