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Exogenous steroids affect plasma growth hormone (GH) concentrations and hypothalamic somatostatin levels either directly, by stimulating the anterior pituitary gland, or indirectly by partially inhibiting the response of the pituitary gland to stimuli. The effect of the circadian rhythm of cortisol on plasma GH concentrations is unknown. In normal subjects, highest plasma GH concentrations are recorded within the first two hours of onset of sleep. During the early morning the plasma GH concentration decreases and the plasma cortisol concentration increases. We investigated the effect of the early morning rise in plasma cortisol concentration on plasma GH concentrations. We studied 12 healthy volunteers on two occasions. On one occasion the early morning rise in plasma cortisol concentrations was reduced by administering metyrapone (750 mg, 4 hourly from 03.00), while on the other occasion no intervention was made. Plasma GH and cortisol concentrations were measured every 30 and 60 minutes respectively from 22.00 until 14.00. Metyrapone caused a significant reduction in the rise of plasma cortisol concentration, but the GH concentration was identical on both occasions. We conclude that the morning rise in cortisol concentration has no acute regulatory effect on the plasma GH concentration.

Original publication




Journal article


Horm Metab Res

Publication Date





237 - 240


Adult, Circadian Rhythm, Female, Growth Hormone, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Male, Pyridines