Temporal structure of in vivo growth hormone secretory events in humans

M. L. Hartman, A. C.S. Faria, M. L. Vance, M. L. Johnson, M. O. Thorner, J. D. Veldhuis

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169 Scopus citations


The time course of spontaneous growth hormone (GH) secretion was studied in 12 normal men by analyzing serum GH concentrations measured in blood collected at 5-min intervals over 24 h with a multiple-parameter deconvolution model to simultaneously resolve endogenous GH secretory and clearance rates. Twenty-four-hour profiles of serum GH concentrations were accounted for by an average of 12 ± 1.2 (SE) discrete GH secretory bursts having a mean half-duration (duration at half-maximal amplitude) of 25 ± 2.3 min, indicating that 95% of daily GH secretion occurred in 8.8 h. The majority (96%) of GH was secreted in volleys composed of multiple (4.0 ± 0.4) discrete secretory bursts. Such volleys of GH secretion were separated by 171 ± 19 min, whereas their constituent individual secretory events occurred every 36 ± 1.7 min (P = 0.0001). Between secretory volleys, calculated GH secretory rates fell asymptotically to zero. Significant positive and negative autocorrelations were observed for the series consisting of successive GH secretory burst mass and interburst intervals, respectively. Linear regression analysis revealed significant negative correlations between the mass of GH secreted per burst and both the preceding and following interburst intervals. Estimates of the half-life of endogenous GH (17 ± 1.7 min) and of the endogenous GH production rate (0.25 ± 0.033 mg/m2 for an assumed distribution volume of 7.9% body wt) agreed well with earlier independent measurements. We conclude that the human pituitary gland secretes GH in volleys consisting of multiple secretory bursts, without measurable intervening tonic secretion. This pattern of in vivo GH release in normal humans is consistent with a model of high-frequency GH-releasing hormone secretory events super-imposed on low-frequency episodes of somatostatin withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E101-E110
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1 23-1
StatePublished - 1991


  • Clearance
  • Deconvolution
  • Growth hormone-releasing hormone
  • Pituitary gland
  • Pulses
  • Somatostatin
  • Somatotroph

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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