Context: GH activates agouti-related protein (AgRP) neurons, leading to orexigenic responses in mice. The relationship between serum GH and plasma AgRP, which has been shown to reflect hypothalamic AgRP, has not been evaluated in humans.
Objective: To test the hypothesis that central stimulatory actions of GH on hypothalamic AgRP could be reflected in plasma AgRP in acromegaly.
Methods: We studied 23 patients with active acromegaly before and for ≤2 years after surgical (n = 13) or GH receptor antagonist therapy with pegvisomant (n = 10), and 100 healthy subjects with morning fasting blood samples for AgRP, leptin, GH, and IGF-1 and anthropometric measurements.
Results: The plasma AgRP levels were higher in those with active acromegaly than in the matched healthy subjects [median, 100 pg/mL; interquartile range (IQR), 78 to 139 pg/mL vs median, 63 pg/mL; IQR, 58 to 67 pg/mL; P < 0.0001]. Plasma AgRP decreased from before to after surgery (median, 102 pg/mL; IQR, 82 to 124 pg/mL vs median, 63 pg/mL; IQR, 55.6 to 83 pg/mL; P = 0.0024) and from before to during pegvisomant therapy (median, 97 pg/mL; IQR, 77 to 175 pg/mL vs median, 63; IQR, 61 to 109 pg/mL; P = 0.006). The plasma AgRP level correlated with GH (r = 0.319; P = 0.011) and IGF-1 (r = 0.292; P = 0.002). In repeated measure analysis, AgRP was significantly associated with IGF-1.
Conclusions: Our data have provided evidence of a stimulatory effect of GH on plasma AgRP in humans. The levels were greater in active acromegaly and decreased in parallel with GH and IGF-1 decreases with acromegaly treatment. Data from mice suggest that AgRP may mediate some of the known effects of GH on energy metabolism. This warrants further study in patients with acromegaly and other populations.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01809808.
Copyright © 2019 Endocrine Society.