Background: Ghrelin is a 28-amino acid acylated peptide that potentiates GHRH stimulation and opposes somatostatin inhibition acutely. Whether prolonged ghrelin administration can sustain physiological patterns of GH secretion remains unknown.
Hypothesis: Continuous delivery of ghrelin will amplify physiological patterns of GH secretion over 24 h.
Subjects: Men and women ages 29-69 yr, body mass indices 23-52 kg/m2, were included in the study.
Location: The study was performed at an academic medical center.
Methods: Twenty-four hour continuous sc infusion of saline vs. ghrelin (1 microg/kg.h) with frequent sampling was examined. Deconvolution and entropy analyses were performed.
Outcomes: IGF-I concentrations were determined. Basal, pulsatile, nycthemeral, and entropic measures of GH secretion were calculated.
Results: Ghrelin infusion compared with saline infusion for 24 h elevated (median) acylated ghrelin, GH, and IGF-I concentrations by 8.1-fold (P < 0.001),11-fold (P < 0.001), and 1.4-fold (P = 0.002). GH secretory-burst mass and frequency increased by 6.6-fold (P = 0.004) and 1.7-fold (P < 0.001), respectively, resulting in a 12-fold increase in pulsatile GH secretion (P < 0.001). Interpulse variability decreased significantly (P = 0.046), whereas GH secretory-burst shape and half-life did not change. The amplitude of the nycthemeral GH rhythm increased by 3.4-fold (P < 0.001), and GH patterns became more irregular (higher approximate entropy P < 0.001). Combining GHRH with ghrelin was not an additive in driving GH secretion.
Conclusions: Continuous ghrelin infusion for 24 h elevates acylated ghrelin, GH and IGF-I concentrations, and stimulates pulsatile, nycthemeral, and entropic modes of GH secretion. The consistency of outcomes in a heterogeneous cohort of adults suggests potentially broad utility of this physiological secretagogue in hyposomatotropic states.