Longitudinal changes in growth hormone secretory process irregularity assessed transpubertally in healthy boys

Steven M. Pincus, Johannes D. Veldhuis, Alan D. Rogol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Clarifying the time evolution, and underlying neuroendocrine regulation, of hormone secretion during puberty is of pivotal importance both physiologically and clinically. We sought to determine whether clinical growth and elevated growth hormone (GH) release in pubertal boys are associated with shifts in the irregularity of GH secretory patterns. We studied GH release in 23 healthy boys longitudinally at ≃4-mo intervals over a 6-yr period throughout puberty, by repetitive blood sampling at 20-min intervals for 24 h on each study date. To quantify serial irregularity in the GH profiles, we utilized approximate entropy (ApEn), a scale- and modelindependent quantification of the extent of sequential 'randomness.' Complementary statistical analyses establish that on a per-subject basis, serum GH concentration-time series show greatest secretory disorderliness (maximal ApEn) in prepuberty and mid-to-late puberty, followed by a steep decline in ApEn to maximal orderliness in postpubertal adolescence (P < 0.0001, ANOVA). Pooling all subject comparisons, we observed a persistent positive correlation between ApEn and growth velocity (GrVel), Pearson r = 0.467 (P < < 10-10). Moreover, in general, ApEn(GH) preceded GrVel evolution, with a time frame lead of 4-8 mo providing the most pronounced correlations between ApEn and GrVel. In the setting of low postpubertal growth, per-subject ApEn values fell to approximately one-half of maximal ApEn values and, on average, were in the 13th percentile from minimal (P < < 10-10) for fully mature boys. Thus, in a longitudinal transpubertal analysis, greater irregularity in GH secretion corresponds to greater linear growth in boys, which culminates in highly regular GH secretory dynamics after sexual maturity. In addition to clinical utility, there may be added experimental merit in knowing that GH dynamics typically predict accelerated linear growth in 4-8 mo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E417-E424
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2 42-2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Approximate entropy
  • Growth rate
  • Humans
  • Pulsatility
  • Somatotropic axis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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