The growth hormone response to hexarelin in children: Reproducibility and effect of sex steroids

Sandro Loche, Annamaria Colao, Marco Cappa, Jaele Bellone, Gianluca Aimaretti, Giovanni Farello, Antonella Faedda, Gaetano Lombardi, Romano Deghenghi, Ezio Ghigo

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We studied the variability of the GH response to the synthetic hexapeptide hexarelin (Hex) and the effect of sex steroids on the GH- releasing effect of Hex in a group of prepubertal short normal children. Twenty-five children were tested on two occasions 3-7 days apart with 2 μg/kg, iv, Hex. The GH response to Hex was reevaluated after testosterone (T) administration in 10 boys, after ethinyl estradiol (EE) administration in 15 children (5 boys and 10 girls), and after oxandrolone (Ox) administration in 8 boys. In the 25 children tested twice, the mean GH peak and mean area under the curve after the first and second tests were similar. The mean (±SD) coefficients of variation of the GH peak and area under the curve responses to Hex was 22.7 ± 21.0% and 24.0 ± 20.7%, respectively. Priming with T and EE resulted in an increased GH response to Hex [41.8 ± 21.0 before vs. 71.1 ± 28.3 after T (P <0.001); 43.0 ± 14.5 before vs. 60.0 ± 20.0 after EE (P <0.005)], whereas Ox administration had no effect on the Hex-induced GH release. These data confirm that Hex is a potent stimulus for GH secretion in children with a limited intraindividual variability. In addition, we have shown that both T and EE, but not Ox, significantly augment the GH-releasing effect of Hex. Our data suggest that the sex steroid- induced increase in the GH response to Hex is mediated by estrogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-864
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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