The combined administration of GH-releasing peptide-2 (GHRP-2), TRH and GnRH to men with prolonged critical illness evokes superior endocrine and metabolic effects compared to treatment with GHRP-2 alone

Greet Van Den Berghe, Robert C. Baxter, Frank Weekers, Pieter Wouters, Cyril Y. Bowers, Ali Iranmanesh, Johannes D. Veldhuis, Roger Bouillon

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118 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Central hyposomatotrophism, hypothyroidism and hypogonadism are present concomitantly in men with prolonged critical illness. This study evaluated the impact of combined treatment with GH-releasing peptide-2 (GHRP-2), TRH and GnRH for 5 days compared with GHRP-2 + TRH and with GHRP-2 alone. PATIENTS AND DESIGN: Thirty-three men with prolonged critical illness participated at baseline compared to 50 age- and body mass index (BMI)-matched controls. Patients were randomly assigned to 5 days of placebo (n = 7), GHRP-2 (1 μg/kg/h; n = 9), GHRP-2 + TRH infusion (1 + 1 μg/kg/h; n = 9) or pulsatile GnRH (0.1 μg/kg every 90 min) together with GHRP-2 + TRH infusion (n = 8). MEASUREMENTS: GH, TSH and LH secretion were quantified by deconvolution analysis of serum concentration time series obtained by sampling every 20 min from 2100 to 0600 h at baseline and on nights 1 and 5 of treatment. Serum concentrations of IGF-I, IGFBPs, thyroid hormones, gonadal and adrenal steroids, proinflammatory cytokines and selected metabolic and inflammation markers were measured daily. RESULTS: Patients revealed suppressed pulsatile GH, TSH and LH secretion in the face of low serum concentrations of IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and the acid-labile subunit (ALS) (P < 0.0001 each), thyroid hormones (P < 0.0001) and total and estimated free testosterone (P < 0.0001) levels, whereas free oestradiol (E2) estimates were normal. Serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) levels were also suppressed whereas morning cortisol was normal. Serum levels of type I procollagen (PICP) and bone alkaline phosphatase (sALP) were elevated whereas osteocalcin (OC) was low (P = 0.03). Ureagenesis (P < 0.0001) and breakdown of bone tissue (P < 0.0001) were increased. Baseline serum TNF-α, IL-6 and C-reactive protein level and white blood cell (WBC) count were elevated; serum lactate was normal. Only low T4 and high IGFBP-1 levels independently predicted mortality. GHRP-2 infusion reactivated GH secretion and normalized serum IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and ALS. GHRP-2 + TRH infusion reactivated both the GH axis and the thyroid axis, with normal levels of T4 and T3 reached within 1 day. Only GHRP-2 + TRH infusion combined with GnRH pulses reactivated the GH and TSH axis and at the same time increased pulsatile LH secretion compared to placebo. Only GnRH pulses together with GHRP-2 + TRH infusion increased testosterone significantly from day 2 (peak increase of + 312%) through day 5 and serum E2 with > 80% from day 1 through day 3 (all P = 0.05). Ureagenesis was reduced by GHRP-2 + TRH + GnRH (P = 0.01) and by GHRP-2 + TRH (P = 0.009) but not by GHRP-2 alone. Serum OC levels were increased only by GHRP-2 + TRH + GnRH (P = 0.03), with a trend for GHRP-2 + TRH (P = 0.09), but not by GHRP-2 alone. On day 5, serum lactate levels and WBC count were increased by GHRP-2 infused alone and in combination with TRH but not by GHRP-2 + TRH + GnRH. CONCLUSIONS: Coadministration of GHRP-2, TRH and GnRH reactivated the GH, TSH and LH axes in prolonged critically ill men and evoked beneficial metabolic effects which were absent with GHRP-2 infusion alone and only partially present with GHRP-2 + TRH. These data underline the importance of correcting the multiple hormonal deficits in patients with prolonged critical illness to counteract the hypercatabolic state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-669
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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