Cortisol feedback state governs adrenocorticotropin secretory-burst shape, frequency, and mass in a dual-waveform construct: Time of day-dependent regulation

Daniel M. Keenan, Johannes D Veldhuis

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Quantification of in vivo pituitary hormone secretion requires simultaneous appraisal of implicit 1) secretory-burst waveform, mass, and stochastic pulse timing; 2) basal secretion; 3) biexponential elimination kinetics; and 4) random experimental error (Keenan DM, Licinio J, and Veldhuis JD. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98: 4028-4033, 2001). The present study extends this analytic formalism to allow for time of day-dependent waveform adaptation (burst-shape change) at statistically determinable boundary times. Thereby, we test the hypothesis that diurnal mechanisms and glucocorticoid negative feedback jointly govern distinctive facets of the burstlike secretion of ACTH. To this end, we reanalyzed intensively (10 min) sampled 24-h plasma ACTH concentration profiles collected previously under feedback-intact and drug-induced cortisol depletion in nine healthy adults. Akaiki information criterion-based model comparison favored dual (rather than single) secretory-burst representation of 24-h ACTH release in both the intact and low-cortisol setting in eight of nine subjects. Under feedback-intact conditions, analytically predicted waveform changepoints (median clock times 0611 and 1739) flanked an interval of elevated ACTH secretory-burst mass (P < 10 -3). Experimental hypocortisolemia did not alter day/night boundaries, but 1) stimulated day ACTH secretory-burst mass (P < 10 -3); 2) accelerated day ACTH secretory-burst frequency (P < 10 -3); and 3) forced skewness of day ACTH secretory bursts toward more rapid initial release (P < 0.05). In contrast, the basal ACTH secretion rate and regularity of interpulse-interval lengths were invariant of day/night segmentation and cortisol availability. In conclusion, unknown diurnal factors and systemic cortisol concentrations codetermine ACTH secretory-burst waveform, frequency, and mass, whereas neither mechanism regulates basal ACTH release or regularity of the burst-renewal process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number5 54-5
StatePublished - Nov 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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