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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Apr;292(4):R1577-93. Epub 2006 Dec 21.

Model-projected mechanistic bases for sex differences in growth hormone regulation in humans.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


Models of physiological systems facilitate rational experimental design, inference, and prediction. A recent construct of regulated growth hormone (GH) secretion interlinks the actions of GH-releasing hormone (GHRH), somatostatin (SRIF), and GH secretagogues (GHS) with GH feedback in the rat (Farhy LS, Veldhuis JD. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 288: R1649-R1663, 2005). In contrast, no comparable formalism exists to explicate GH dynamics in any other species. The present analyses explore whether a unifying model structure can represent species- and sex-defined distinctions in the human and rodent. The consensus principle that GHRH and GHS synergize in vivo but not in vitro was explicable by assuming that GHS 1) evokes GHRH release from the brain, 2) opposes inhibition by SRIF both in the hypothalamus and on the pituitary gland, and 3) stimulates pituitary GH release directly and additively with GHRH. The gender-selective principle that GH pulses are larger and more irregular in women than men was conferrable by way of 4) higher GHRH potency and 5) greater GHS efficacy. The overall construct predicts GHRH/GHS synergy in the human only in the presence of SRIF when the brain-pituitary nexus is intact, larger and more irregular GH pulses in women, and observed gender differences in feedback by GH and the single and paired actions of GHRH, GHS, and SRIF. The proposed model platform should enhance the framing and interpretation of novel clinical hypotheses and create a basis for interspecies generalization of GH-axis regulation.

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