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J Endocrinol Invest. 1999;22(5 Suppl):22-6.

Regulation of growth hormone secretion by signals produced by the adipose tissue.

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Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine and Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago, Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


The neuroregulation of growth hormone (GH) secretion and the state of the adipose tissue reserves are closely related. GH exerts lipolytic actions on the adipose tissue and low body weight enhances secretion of GH while obesity is associated with reduced levels of GH and blocked release of GH when challenged by all stimuli. The mediators of the regulation exerted by the adipose tissue on the GH/insulin-like growth factor-I axis are not fully understood, but in the last few years two relevant factors have emerged--free fatty acids (FFA) and the adipocyte-produced hormone leptin. FFA and GH integrate a classical feedback loop and a rise in FFA blocks GH secretion. This action is rapid, dose-related and exerted at the pituitary level with no evident hypothalamic participation. A pharmacological reduction in FFA enhances secretion of GH and eliminates the GH blockade of obesity and Cushing's syndrome. The discovery of leptin has expanded our knowledge of the way in which the adipose tissue participates in some neuroendocrine actions. Obesity is associated with elevated levels of serum leptin while undernutrition and fasting lead to low leptin. In fasted rats, the pattern of GH pulsatility is eliminated with a near absence of spontaneous peaks, but the administration of leptin by the intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) route restores the altered pattern. When fed rats receive antileptin antibodies i.c.v the normal pattern is reversed to an absence of pulses, reminiscent of the fasting state. These results are the first demonstration that, at least in experimental animals, leptin is a relevant factor in GH regulation. Leptin has no direct pituitary action and its action at the hypothalamic level appears to be mediated by neuropeptide Y, being the final step in a reduction in the somatostatin tone. On the other hand, the action of GH on leptin levels seems to be tenuous in humans, but in the near future it will be possible to investigate the action of leptin on human GH. As the hypothalamic neuroregulation of GH secretion in humans is unlike that in the rat, a crucial point for elucidation will be the actions, if any, and the mechanisms by which leptin participates in GH regulation in humans, as well as its alterations in disease states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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