Thirty-second sampling of plasma growth hormone in man: Correlation with sleep stages

Reinhard W. Holl, Mark L. Hartman, Johannes D. Veldhuis, William M. Taylor, Michael O. Thorner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


Both fasting and sleep increase the secretion of human GH and, therefore, might explain its predominantly nocturnal release. To study the precise temporal relationship between GH secretory episodes and cortical activity, GH measurements and electroencephalogram sleep stage recordings were performed every 30 s for 8 h in six young male volunteers fasted for 24 h. GH was measured in two drops of whole blood, which were directly sampled into the assay tube using a continuous blood withdrawal pump and a fraction collector. Concomitant serum sampling during a GH-releasing hormone test (n = 4) revealed a high correlation (r = 0.98) between GH measurements in serum and whole blood. GH pulses were objectively identified with Cluster analysis, and GH secretion rates were calculated with a waveform-independent deconvolution algorithm. When data were analyzed as replicates with 1-min intervals, the nocturnal pulse frequency was 1.2 pulses/h. Elimination of data points demonstrated 43% and 64% reductions in the number of GH pulses detected for 5- and 20-min sampling intervals, respectively. Mean GH concentrations and secretory rates were significantly higher during stage 3 and 4 sleep compared to stage 1, 2, and rapid eye movement sleep. GH secretory rates and peripheral GH concentrations were maximally correlated with sleep stage, with lags of 4.5 and 16 min, respectively, suggesting that maximal GH release occurs within minutes of the onset of stage 3 or 4 sleep. This temporal coincidence between pituitary GH secretion and Δ sleep is consistent with cortical control over hypothalamic-pituitary function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-861
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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