Growth hormone immunoreactivity does not reflect bioactivity

Giorgio Radetti, Mauro Bozzola, Sara Pagani, Maria E. Street, Lucia Ghizzoni

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In childhood, the largest secretory burst of GH occurs during nighttime, and consists of a complex mixture of molecular forms of GH that are thought to have different biologic activity. Standard GH assays cannot distinguish between bioactive and biologically inactive GH isoforms. To examine this relationship, overnight GH secretion was assessed by blood sampling every 30 min in 10 short prepubertal children (7 boys and 3 girls) to evaluate both the serum concentration and the biologic activity of GH. Serum GH concentrations were measured by an immunofluorometric assay and its biologic activity by the Nb2 cell bioassay. The 12-h (2000 h to 0800 h) and 6-h (2000 h to 0200 h and 0200 h to 0800 h) GH profiles were analyzed using the Pulsar program. When GH secretory pattern was measured by immunofluorometric assay, the area under the curve above the 0 line, the mean GH concentration, and the mean height of the secretory peaks were significantly higher during the first than during the second part of the night (29.17 ± 5.93 versus 16.29 ± 1.87 mIU/L, p <0.05; 7.77 ± 1.28 versus 4.83 ± 0.33 mIU/L, p <0.05; 4.61 ± 0.94 versus 2.68 ± 0.27 mIU/L, p <0.05, respectively). In contrast, GH biologic activity was not significantly different during the two parts of the night. In conclusion, a dissociation between GH bioactivity and immunoreactivity is present in physiologic conditions, indicating that standard GH measurements do not provide any information on the biologic activity of the hormone. Although GH secretion is regulated by complex neuroendocrine mechanisms, the biologic activity of the hormone seems to be independent of them and is most probably regulated by peripheral mechanisms acting on its clearance or bioavailability to the target tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-622
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Cite this

Radetti, G., Bozzola, M., Pagani, S., Street, M. E., & Ghizzoni, L. (2000). Growth hormone immunoreactivity does not reflect bioactivity. Pediatric Research, 48(5), 619-622.