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Neuroendocrinology. 1988 Jul;48(1):32-8.

Effects of intravenous corticotropin-releasing hormone upon sleep-related growth hormone surge and sleep EEG in man.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Mainz, FRG.


Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) plays a key role in coordinating neuroendocrine, metabolic and behavioral responses in stress and affective disorders. To further investigate the effects of enhanced pituitary-adrenocortical activity upon sleep-related phenomena we administered four intravenous injections of 50 micrograms human (h)-CRH or saline to 11 normal males at 10 p.m., 11 p.m., 12 p.m. and 1 a.m. and measured plasma levels of cortisol and growth hormone (GH) as well as sleep EEG recordings throughout the night. Treatment with h-CRH resulted in a significant increase of mean (+/- SEM) cortisol secretion between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. (h-CRH: 100.6 +/- 9.5 ng/ml; saline: 39.0 +/- 1.5 ng/ml; p less than 0.01). This initial cortisol increase after repeated h-CRH stimulations was followed by a period of attenuated plasma cortisol between 3 and 7 a.m. (h-CRH: 70.3 +/- 7.0 ng/ml; saline: 115.5 +/- 8.0 ng/ml; p less than 0.01). Cortisol surges after h-CRH were associated with a significant blunting of sleep-related GH release expressed as areas under concentration curves (h-CRH: 1.245 +/- 0.32 ng/ml/min.10(3); saline: 2.462 +/- 0.92 ng/ml/min.10(3), p less than 0.01). In addition to these hormonal effects, h-CRH induced a decrease of REM and slow wave sleep (stages III and IV) while the amount of more shallow sleep (stages I and II) increased. These effects upon sleep structure were more pronounced during the second part of the night.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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