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Endocrinology. 1998 Sep;139(9):3871-5.

Leptin is a potent stimulator of spontaneous pulsatile growth hormone (GH) secretion and the GH response to GH-releasing hormone.

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Department of Pediatrics, McGill University, Montreal, Qu├ębec, Canada.


Pulsatile GH secretion is exquisitely sensitive to perturbations in nutritional status, but the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. Leptin, a recently discovered adipose cell hormone, is thought to be a sensor of energy stores and to regulate body mass, appetite, and metabolism at the level of the brain. Receptors for leptin are abundantly expressed in hypothalamic nuclei known to be involved in GH regulation, suggesting that leptin may serve as an important hormonal signal to the GH neuroendocrine axis in normal animals. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of intracerebroventricular infusion of recombinant murine leptin, at a dose of 1.2 microg/day for 7 days, on both spontaneous and GH-releasing hormone (GHRH)-stimulated GH secretion in free-moving adult male rats. Concomitant with suppressive effects on food intake, body weight, and basal plasma insulin-like growth factor I, insulin, and glucose concentrations, central infusion of leptin resulted in a 2- to 3-fold augmentation of GH pulse amplitude, 5-fold higher GH nadir levels, and a 2- to 3-fold increase in the integrated area under the 6-h GH response curve compared with those in vehicle-infused controls (P < 0.001). The intracerebroventricular infusion of leptin also produced a 3- to 4-fold increase in GHRH-induced GH release at GH trough times (P < 0.01). These studies demonstrate a potent stimulatory action of leptin on both spontaneous pulsatile GH secretion and the GH response to GHRH. The results suggest that the GH-releasing activity of leptin is mediated, at least in part, by an inhibition of hypothalamic somatostatin release. Thus, leptin may be a critical hormonal signal of nutritional status in the neuroendocrine regulation of pulsatile GH secretion.

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