Lack of stimulation of 24-hour growth hormone release by hypocaloric diet in obesity

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995 Mar;80(3):796-801. doi: 10.1210/jcem.80.3.7533771.


Obesity is associated with a marked reduction in the spontaneous secretion of GH. To investigate the effect of acute alterations in calorie intake on GH release, 24-hr spontaneous GH release was measured during habitual calorie intake as well as during a short term, very low calorie diet (VLCD) in 6 obese subjects, 5 obese subjects after weight loss, and 5 normal, age- and sex-matched control subjects. Integrated 20-min samples were obtained over 24-h on two occasions in each subject using a constant blood withdrawal technique. In addition, basal levels of serum insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), IGF-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), insulin, pro-insulin, and blood glucose were measured during habitual energy intake as well as during the hypocaloric diet. Twenty-four-hour GH release profiles and IGFBP-1 were decreased, and insulin as well as proinsulin levels were elevated in obese subjects compared to those in normal age- and sex-matched controls. No differences between obese subjects and normal controls were present regarding IGF-I, IGFBP-3, or IGF-I/IGFBP-3 molar ratio. In the last 24 h during the 96-h VLCD, an increase in 24-h GH release and basal IGFBP-1 levels and a decrease in basal insulin levels occurred in the normal controls, whereas no such changes were observed in the obese subjects. After caloric restriction 24-hr GH release, IGFBP-1 levels and insulin levels were similar in control subjects and obese subjects after weight loss. This suggests a reversible defect in GH release, rather than a persistent preexisting disorder. It is hypothesized that enhanced bioavailability of IGF-I, acting in concert with elevated proinsulin and insulin levels, may account for the lack of stimulation of 24-hr GH release by the hypocaloric diet in obese subjects. We conclude that the increase in 24-h spontaneous GH release and IGFBP-1 levels observed in normal subjects during the last 24 h of a 96-h VLCD is abolished in obese subjects. The lack of short term hypocaloric stimulation of spontaneous GH release may promote the retention of body fat and perpetuate the obese state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Male
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Proinsulin / blood
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone
  • Proinsulin