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Concept: Growth hormone


Genetic suppression of insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) can extend longevity in worms, insects, and mammals. In laboratory mice, mutations with the greatest, most consistent, and best documented positive impact on lifespan are those that disrupt growth hormone (GH) release or actions. These mutations lead to major alterations in IIS but also have a variety of effects that are not directly related to the actions of insulin or insulin-like growth factor I. Long-lived GH-resistant GHR-KO mice with targeted disruption of the GH receptor gene, as well as Ames dwarf (Prop1(df)) and Snell dwarf (Pit1(dw)) mice lacking GH (along with prolactin and TSH), are diminutive in size and have major alterations in body composition and metabolic parameters including increased subcutaneous adiposity, increased relative brain weight, small liver, hypoinsulinemia, mild hypoglycemia, increased adiponectin levels and insulin sensitivity, and reduced serum lipids. Body temperature is reduced in Ames, Snell, and female GHR-KO mice. Indirect calorimetry revealed that both Ames dwarf and GHR-KO mice utilize more oxygen per gram (g) of body weight than sex- and age-matched normal animals from the same strain. They also have reduced respiratory quotient, implying greater reliance on fats, as opposed to carbohydrates, as an energy source. Differences in oxygen consumption (VO(2)) were seen in animals fed or fasted during the measurements as well as in animals that had been exposed to 30% calorie restriction or every-other-day feeding. However, at the thermoneutral temperature of 30°C, VO(2) did not differ between GHR-KO and normal mice. Thus, the increased metabolic rate of the GHR-KO mice, at a standard animal room temperature of 23°C, is apparently related to increased energy demands for thermoregulation in these diminutive animals. We suspect that increased oxidative metabolism combined with enhanced fatty acid oxidation contribute to the extended longevity of GHR-KO mice.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Hypothalamus, Carbon dioxide, Metabolism, Energy, Hormone, Obesity, Growth hormone


Measurement of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-I) has utility for the diagnosis and management of growth disorders, but inter-assay comparison of results has been complicated by a multitude of reference standards, antibodies, detection methods, and pre-analytical preparation strategies. We developed a quantitative LC-MS method for intact IGF-I, which has advantages in throughput and complexity when compared to mass spectrometric approaches that rely on stable isotope dilution analysis of tryptic peptides. Since the method makes use of full-scan data, the assay was easily extended to provide quantitative measurement of IGF-II using the same assay protocol. The validated LC-MS assay for IGF-I and IGF-II provides accurate results across the pediatric and adult reference range and is suitable for clinical use.

Concepts: Immune system, Mass spectrometry, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Growth hormone, Growth factors, Insulin-like growth factor, Peptide hormones, IGFBP3


Growth hormone (GH) is an important regulator of metabolism and body composition. GH deficiency is associated with increased visceral body fat and other features of the metabolic syndrome. Here we performed a cross-sectional study to explore the association of GH levels with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is considered to be the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. A total of 1,667 subjects were diagnosed as NAFLD according the diagnostic criteria, and 5,479 subjects were defined as the controls. The subjects with NAFLD had significantly lower levels of serum GH than the controls. Those with low GH levels had a higher prevalence of NAFLD and the metabolic syndrome. A stepwise logistic regression analysis showed that GH levels were significantly associated with the risk factor for NAFLD (OR = 0.651, 95%CI = 0.574-0.738, P<0.001). Our results showed a significant association between lower serum GH levels and NAFLD.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Obesity, Fat, Growth hormone, Metabolic syndrome, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Fatty liver


Mice and humans with growth hormone receptor/IGF-1 deficiencies display major reductions in age-related diseases. Because protein restriction reduces GHR-IGF-1 activity, we examined links between protein intake and mortality. Respondents aged 50-65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer death risk during the following 18 years. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the proteins were plant derived. Conversely, high protein intake was associated with reduced cancer and overall mortality in respondents over 65, but a 5-fold increase in diabetes mortality across all ages. Mouse studies confirmed the effect of high protein intake and GHR-IGF-1 signaling on the incidence and progression of breast and melanoma tumors, but also the detrimental effects of a low protein diet in the very old. These results suggest that low protein intake during middle age followed by moderate to high protein consumption in old adults may optimize healthspan and longevity.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Death, Hormone, Middle Ages, Growth hormone, Diet


Nutritional imbalance underlies many disease processes but can be very beneficial in certain cases; for instance, the antiepileptic action of a high fat and low carbohydrate ketogenic diet. Besides this therapeutic feature it is not clear how this abundant fat supply may affect homeostasis, leading to side effects. A ketogenic diet is used as anti-seizure therapy i.a. in tuberous sclerosis patients, but its impact on concomitant tumor growth is not known. To examine this we have evaluated the growth of renal lesions in Eker rats (Tsc2+/-) subjected to a ketogenic diet for 4, 6 and 8 months. In spite of existing opinions about the anticancer actions of a ketogenic diet, we have shown that this anti-seizure therapy, especially in its long term usage, leads to excessive tumor growth. Prolonged feeding of a ketogenic diet promotes the growth of renal tumors by recruiting ERK1/2 and mTOR which are associated with the accumulation of oleic acid and the overproduction of growth hormone. Simultaneously, we observed that Nrf2, p53 and 8-oxoguanine glycosylase α dependent antitumor mechanisms were launched by the ketogenic diet. However, the pro-cancerous mechanisms finally took the ascendency by boosting tumor growth.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Oncology, Metabolism, Nutrition, Growth hormone, Term, Ketogenic diet


Physical activity is associated with reduced risk of several cancers, including aggressive prostate cancer. The mechanisms mediating the effects are not yet understood; among the candidates are modifications of endogenous hormone levels. Long-term exercise is known to reduce serum levels of growth stimulating hormones. In contrast, the endocrine effects of acute endurance exercise include increased levels of mitogenic factors such as GH and IGF-1. It can be speculated that the elevation of serum growth factors may be detrimental to prostate cancer progression into malignancy. The incentive of the current study is to evaluate the effect of acute exercise serum on prostate cancer cell growth. We designed an exercise intervention where 10 male individuals performed 60 minutes of bicycle exercise at increasing intensity. Serum samples were obtained before (rest serum) and after completed exercise (exercise serum). The established prostate cancer cell line LNCaP was exposed to exercise or rest serum. Exercise serum from 9 out of 10 individuals had a growth inhibitory effect on LNCaP cells. Incubation with pooled exercise serum resulted in a 31% inhibition of LNCaP growth and pre-incubation before subcutaneous injection into SCID mice caused a delay in tumor formation. Serum analyses indicated two possible candidates for the effect; increased levels of IGFBP-1 and reduced levels of EGF. In conclusion, despite the fear of possible detrimental effects of acute exercise serum on tumor cell growth, we show that even the short-term effects seem to add to the overall beneficial influence of exercise on neoplasia.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Obesity, Prostate cancer, Growth hormone, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm


Although both growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling were shown to regulate life span in lower organisms, the role of GH signaling in human longevity remains unclear. Because a GH receptor exon 3 deletion (d3-GHR) appears to modulate GH sensitivity in humans, we hypothesized that this polymorphism could play a role in human longevity. We report a linear increased prevalence of d3-GHR homozygosity with age in four independent cohorts of long-lived individuals: 841 participants [567 of the Longevity Genes Project (LGP) (8% increase; P = 0.01), 152 of the Old Order Amish (16% increase; P = 0.02), 61 of the Cardiovascular Health Study (14.2% increase; P = 0.14), and 61 of the French Long-Lived Study (23.5% increase; P = 0.02)]. In addition, mega analysis of males in all cohorts resulted in a significant positive trend with age (26% increase; P = 0.007), suggesting sexual dimorphism for GH action in longevity. Further, on average, LGP d3/d3 homozygotes were 1 inch taller than the wild-type (WT) allele carriers (P = 0.05) and also showed lower serum IGF-1 levels (P = 0.003). Multivariate regression analysis indicated that the presence of d3/d3 genotype adds approximately 10 years to life span. The LGP d3/d3-GHR transformed lymphocytes exhibited superior growth and extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation, to GH treatment relative to WT GHR lymphocytes (P < 0.01), indicating a GH dose response. The d3-GHR variant is a common genetic polymorphism that modulates GH responsiveness throughout the life span and positively affects male longevity.

Concepts: Immune system, Gene, Genetics, Allele, Signal transduction, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Growth hormone, Heterozygote advantage


BACKGROUND: Cluster headache is associated with structural abnormalities of the hypothalamus. We were interested in the association of cluster headache with endocrinological functional abnormalities. Therefore, we applied the apomorphine challenge test, which is a specific test of hypothalamic dopaminergic activation. METHODS: We enrolled 13 patients with cluster headache outside the bout and without medication. They were stimulated with 0.005 mg/kg of body weight subcutaneous apomorphine hydrochloride. After 45 and 60 minutes, growth hormone (GH), prolactin and cortisol were measured. The test was also applied to 14 sex- and age-matched healthy control subjects. RESULTS: There were significantly higher GH levels in healthy subjects as compared to cluster headache patients 45 minutes after injection (10.8 ± 10.8 versus 4.4 ± 7.4 ng/ml; P  = 0.038). Only in cluster headache, the GH level after 60 minutes was not significantly different from the baseline. The levels of prolactin and cortisol did not show any significant differences between cluster headache patients and in healthy subjects. DISCUSSION: Our data suggest that cluster headache is associated with an impaired dopaminergic stimulation. This finding supports the body of evidence that cluster headache is associated with a functional abnormality of the hypothalamus and that this association is a primary (i.e. idiopathic) and not a secondary phenomenon during the bout.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Pituitary gland, Prolactin, Growth hormone, Dopamine, Somatostatin, Anterior pituitary, Dopaminergic


IMPORTANCE Growing evidence of cell-to-cell transmission of neurodegenerative disease (ND)-associated proteins (NDAPs) (ie, tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein) suggests possible similarities to the infectious prion protein (PrPsc) in spongiform encephalopathies. There are limited data on the potential human-to-human transmission of NDAPs associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) and other non-PrPsc ND. OBJECTIVE To examine evidence for human-to-human transmission of AD, Parkinson disease (PD), and related NDAPs in cadaveric human growth hormone (c-hGH) recipients. DESIGN We conducted a detailed immunohistochemical analysis of pathological NDAPs other than PrPsc in human pituitary glands. We also searched for ND in recipients of pituitary-derived c-hGH by reviewing the National Hormone and Pituitary Program (NHPP) cohort database and medical literature. SETTING University-based academic center and agencies of the US Department of Health and Human Services. PARTICIPANTS Thirty-four routine autopsy subjects (10 non-ND controls and 24 patients with ND) and a US cohort of c-hGH recipients in the NHPP. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Detectable NDAPs in human pituitary sections and death certificate reports of non-PrPsc ND in the NHPP database. RESULTS We found mild amounts of pathological tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein deposits in the adeno/neurohypophysis of patients with ND and control patients. No cases of AD or PD were identified, and 3 deaths attributed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) were found among US NHPP c-hGH recipients, including 2 of the 796 decedents in the originally confirmed NHPP c-hGH cohort database. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Despite the likely frequent exposure of c-hGH recipients to NDAPs, and their markedly elevated risk of PrPsc-related disease, this population of NHPP c-hGH recipients does not appear to be at increased risk of AD or PD. We discovered 3 ALS cases of unclear significance among US c-hGH recipients despite the absence of pathological deposits of ALS-associated proteins (TDP-43, FUS, and ubiquilin) in human pituitary glands. In this unique in vivo model of human-to-human transmission, we found no evidence to support concerns that NDAPs underlying AD and PD transmit disease in humans despite evidence of their cell-to-cell transmission in model systems of these disorders. Further monitoring is required to confirm these conclusions.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Pituitary gland, Growth hormone, Prion, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Neurodegenerative disorders, Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, Endocrine gland


Billions of birds migrate long distances to either reach breeding areas or to spend the winter at more benign places. On migration, most passerines frequently stop over to rest and replenish their fuel reserves. To date, we know little regarding how they decide that they are ready to continue their journey. What physiological signals tell a bird’s brain that its fuel reserves are sufficient to resume migration? A network of hormones regulates food intake and body mass in vertebrates, including the recently discovered peptide hormone, ghrelin. Here, we show that ghrelin reflects body condition and influences migratory behavior of wild birds. We measured ghrelin levels of wild garden warblers (Sylvia borin) captured at a stopover site. Further, we manipulated blood concentrations of ghrelin to test its effects on food intake and migratory restlessness. We found that acylated ghrelin concentrations of garden warblers with larger fat scores were higher than those of birds without fat stores. Further, injections of unacylated ghrelin decreased food intake and increased migratory restlessness. These results represent experimental evidence that appetite-regulating hormones control migratory behavior. Our study lays a milestone in migration physiology because it provides the missing link between ecologically dependent factors such as condition and timing of migration. In addition, it offers insights in the regulation of the hormonal system controlling food intake and energy stores in vertebrates, whose disruption causes eating disorders and obesity.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Insulin, Physiology, Hormone, Receptor, Growth hormone, Bird