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LK Conley, RC Gaillard, A Giustina, RS Brogan, and WB Wehrenberg

We have previously shown that hexarelin, a novel GH-releasing peptide (GHRP), is able to elicit GH release when administered i.v., s.c. or by mouth and that it is a more potent GH secretagogue than GHRP-6. In the current study, we investigated the effects of hexarelin administered as repeated doses at 2 h intervals or as a continuous 6, 30 or 174 h infusion to conscious male rats. In the first experiment, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were prepared with dual indwelling jugular catheters. On the day of experimentation, these animals received three 25 micrograms/kg i.v. boluses of hexarelin at 2 h intervals with blood sampling at 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min after each dose. The mean peak GH response and the mean area under the GH response curve (AUC) for the 30 min after each administration were calculated and are reported as the mean +/- S.E.M. For both the peak and AUC results there was a significant (P < 0.05) difference in the GH response noted between the first (peak 301 +/- 37 ng/ml; AUC 5585 +/- 700 ng/ml per 30 min) and second (peak 149 +/- 47 ng/ml; AUC 3056 +/- 908 ng/ml per 30 min) injections of hexarelin, but not between the first and third (peak 214 +/- 49 ng/ml; AUC 3862 +/- 844 ng/ml per 30 min). In a second series of experiments, adult male Sprague-Dawley rats received continuous infusions (100 micrograms/h) of hexarelin or saline (1 ml/h) for 6, 30 or 174 h. Blood samples were collected every 20 min for the duration of the 6 h infusion and for the last 6 h of the two longer hexarelin infusions. Plasma GH concentrations peaked within 40 min of the initiation of infusion, but soon returned to basal levels. Mean plasma GH concentrations did not differ between any of the treatment groups, nor did any of the parameters of pulsatile hormone release analyzed. No significant differences in plasma corticosterone concentrations were noted between any of the treatment groups. On the other hand, while neither the 6 h (941 +/- 70 ng/ml) nor the 30 h (954 +/- 70 ng/ml) hexarelin infusions resulted in a significant increase in the plasma IGF-I concentrations over those noted in the saline controls (935 +/- 65 ng/ml), a 174 h hexarelin infusion did elicit a significant increase (1289 +/- 42 ng/ml; P < 0.05). Thus it appears that, while continuous exposure to hexarelin does not disrupt normal GH cycling, it may (after up to 174 h of exposure) alter other components of the growth axis. In addition, since the character of pulsatile GH release remained unaltered in response to the hexarelin infusion, it appears that this GHRP may not act by suppression of functional somatostatin tone as has been suggested previously.

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V Sibilia, AE Rigamonti, F Pagani, N Lattuada, F Guidobono, WB Wehrenberg, EE Muller, and C Netti

The effects of neonatal passive immunization against GHRH on bone was examined in male and female rats. Pups were treated subcutaneously with GHRH-antiserum (GHRH-Ab) from day 1 to day 10 of age. Bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) were evaluated at monthly intervals until 7 months. Markers of bone resorption (urinary lysylpyridinoline, LP), bone formation (serum osteocalcin, OC) and serum IGF-I were measured at 2, 3 and 7 months. In male rats, GHRH-Ab did not modify BMC and BMD when compared with controls. In contrast, female rats demonstrated lower whole body and femoral BMC and BMD from 2 to 7 months of age. Reduced bone growth in the females was associated with lower IGF-I levels than controls at 2 and 3 months of age, whereas in males IGF-I titers did not change during the period of the study. LP excretion was higher in GHRH-Ab-treated rats at 2 and 3 months in both sexes. In females, no difference in OC values was recorded, whereas in GHRH-Ab-treated males, there was an increase in OC levels at 2 and 3 months. These data indicate that transient GHRH deprivation induces an osteopenic effect in female rats which is not evident in male rats.