A sexually dimorphic pattern of growth hormone secretion in the elderly.
Hindmarsh PC., Dennison E., Pincus SM., Cooper C., Fall CH., Matthews DR., Pringle PJ., Brook CG.
In rodents, the sexually dimorphic pattern of pulsatile GH secretion is an important determinant of growth, liver enzyme function and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) expression. Whether this difference is present in humans at different ages is unclear. We studied GH secretory patterns in the elderly by constructing 24-h serum GH profiles in 45 male and 38 female (age, 59.4-73.0 yr) volunteers and related patterns to IGF-I, IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), and GH-binding protein levels; body mass index; and waist/hip ratio. Serum GH concentrations were measured in samples drawn at 20-min intervals and analyzed using a sensitive chemiluminescent assay (Nichols Institute Diagnostics: sensitivity, 0.036 mU/L). The 24-h serum GH profiles were analyzed using a concentration distribution method to determine GH peak and trough levels, spectral analysis, and assessment of serial irregularity by approximate entropy (ApEn). There was a highly significant difference in mean 24-h serum GH concentrations in females compared to males (males, 0.88 mU/L; females, 1.31 mU/L; P = 0.009) as a result of significantly higher trough GH levels (males, 0.04 mU/L; females, 0.16 mU/L; P < 0.001). Peak values were not significantly different. Serum IGF-I levels were significantly higher in males (males, 162.4 ng/mL; females, 87.8 ng/ mL; P < 0.001). Peak GH values were related to serum IGF-I levels (males: r = 0.39; P = 0.009; females: r = 0.5; P = 0.002), whereas trough GH levels were not. IGFBP-3 levels were similar and related to GH peaks only in males (r = 0.32; P = 0.03). GH was secreted with a dominant periodicity of 200 min in males and 280 min in females (P < 0.025). The proportion of time taken up by regular oscillatory activity was less in females (females, 11.1%; males, 14.7%; P = 0.01). GH secretion assessed by ApEn was more disordered in females (males, 0.60; females, 0.81; P < 0.001), and increasing disorder was associated with lower IGF-I levels. Body mass index was negatively related to GH in both sexes. In males, trough values were the major determinant (r = -0.31; P = 0.04), whereas in females, the peak value was the major determinant (r = 0.35; P = 0.04). Trough GH levels were inversely related in both sexes to waist/hip ratio (males: r = -0.40; P = 0.006; females: r = -0.44; P = 0.006) and to increasing secretory disorder (ApEn; r = -0.46; P < 0.001). These data demonstrate a sexually dimorphic pattern of GH secretion in the elderly.