The effect of growth hormone secretagogues and neuropeptide Y on hypothalamic hormone release from acute rat hypothalamic explants

M. Korbonits, J. A. Little, M. L. Forsling, G. Tringali, A. Costa, P. Navarra, P. J. Trainer, A. B. Grossman

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Growth hormone (GH) secretagogues (GH-releasing peptides and their non-peptide analogues) stimulate growth hormone release via specific G-protein coupled receptors both directly from the pituitary gland and through stimulation of the hypothalamus. The exact mechanism of action in the hypothalamus is not known. The presence of endogenous GH releasing hormone (GHRH) seems to be necessary for the in-vivo actions of growth hormone secretagogues (GHSs), but data suggest that further factors must be involved as well. The effect of GHSs is not entirely specific for the GH axis; they release prolactin and stimulate the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis causing elevations in circulating ACTH and cortisol levels in both animal and human studies. Recently, it has also been suggested that GHSs stimulate hypothalamic neuropeptide Y (NPY) neurones, in the present study, we have therefore investigated the direct effect of several GHSs (GHRP-6, hexarelin and the non-peptide analogues L-692,429 and L-692,585) on GHRH, somatostatin (SS), corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and arginine vasopressin (AVP) release in vitro in an acute rat hypothalamic incubation system. We also assessed the effect of NPY on GHRH, SS and AVP release. Freshly removed hypothalami were incubated in control media for 20 min and then in 1-4 consecutive 20-min periods in each of the test substances at different concentrations. There was no significant change in either the basal or potassium-stimulated release of GHRH or SS at low concentrations of any of the secretagogues; however, at millimolar doses a paradoxical inhibition of GHRH was observed with GHRP-6, hexarelin and L-692,585 (data are expressed as the ratio of treated to preceding basal release; at 20 min control group: 0.97 ± 0.02, GHRP-6: 0.55 ± 0.04, P <0.001 compared to control group; hexarelin: 0.56 ± 0.06, P <0.001, L-692,585: 0.70 ± 0.03, P <0.001), while SS was stimulated after 60 or 80 min (at 80 min control: 0.80 ± 0.03, hexarelin: 1.23 ± 0.07, P <0.05 and L-692,585: 1.37 ± 0.11, P <0.05). GHSs stimulated hypothalamic AVP release (at 20 min control: 0.99 ± 0.06 ratio to basal release, 10-4 M concentration of GHRP-6: 6.31 ± 1, P <0.001, hexarelin: 1.88 ± 0.4, P <0.01, L-692,429: 1.90 ± 0.5. P <0.05 and L-692,585: 2.34 ± 0.96, p <0.01), while no stimulatory effect was found on CRH release. NPY significantly stimulated SS and inhibited basal and potassium-stimulated GHRH release, while potentiating potassium-evoked AVP secretion. The Y, receptor antagonist BIBP 3226 did not inhibit the effects of NPY on SS, GHRH or AVP release. We therefore conclude that, in this in-vitro rat hypothalamic incubation model, growth hormone secretagogues stimulate the release of AVP but have no effect on either GHRH, SS or CRH at low doses; at high doses paradoxically they inhibit the hypothalamic GH axis similar to in-vivo data in the rat. We speculate that these effects might be mediated by NPY.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroendocrinology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Arginine vasopressin
  • Corticotrophin-releasing hormone
  • Growth hormone secratagogues
  • Growth hormone-releasing hormone
  • Growth hormone-releasing peptides
  • Hypothalamus
  • Rat
  • Somatostatin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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