Pulsatile growth hormone release in normal women during the menstrual cycle

A. C S Faria, L. W. Bekenstein, R. A. Booth, V. A. Vaccaro, C. M. Asplin, Johannes D Veldhuis, M. O. Thorner, W. S. Evans

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Objective - We sought to characterize pulsatile growth hormone (GH) release in normal women during the menstrual cycle and to document possible relationships between such characteristics and concentrations of 17 β-oestradiol and progesterone. Subjects - Fifteen women with ostensibly normal menstrual function were studied during the early follicular phase, 15 during the late folicular phase and 15 during the mid-luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Design - The phase of the menstrual cycle having been documented, blood samples were obtained from each woman every 10 minutes for 24 hours. Measurements - Serum GH was measured in each sample by immunoradiometric assay. Pulsatile GH release was appraised utilizing the objective, statistically-based pulse detection algorithm Cluster. Results - The mean (± SEM) integrated serum GH concentration (mU/l min) in late follicular phase women (5335 ± 848) was higher than that observed in early follicular phase women (3156 ± 322; P = 0.032). The integrated GH concentration calculated for mid-luteal phase women (3853 ± 788) was intermediate between but not statistically different from that observed in early follicular (P = 0.48) and late follicular (P = 0.14) phase women. No differences in GH pulse frequency (pulses/24 hours) were found among early follicular (8.27 ± 0.55), late follicular (7.93 ± 0.91) or mid-luteal (8.47 ± 0.66) phase women. Mean maximal GH pulse amplitude (mU/l) was higher in late follicular phase (8.93 ± 1.00) than early follicular phase (5.74 ± 0.67; P = 0.008) and mid-luteal phase (5.76 ± 0.74; P = 0.008) women. Similarly, incremental GH pulse amplitude (mU/l) was higher in late follicular phase (7.33 ± 0.83) than early follicular phase (4.68 ± 0.58; P = 0.005) and mid-luteal phase (4.36 ± 0.39; P = 0.002) women. No differences in mean pulse widths or in the interpeak valley mean GH concentrations were found among the groups. Multiple regression of each pulse parameter against serum concentrations of testosterone, 17β-oestradiol and progesterone revealed a significant (P = 0.045) positive correlation between maximum GH pulse amplitude and oestradiol and a significant (P = 0.04) negative correlation between maximal GH pulse amplitude and progesterone (r = 0.41). Conclusion - These results suggest that late follicular phase concentrations of oestradiol may enhance circulating GH via an amplitude-modulated rather than a frequency-modulated effect on the endogenous GH pulse. Progesterone may blunt this oestrogen-associated effect, thus resulting in the observed mid-luteal phase concentrations of GH. Whether these gonadal hormones act primarily at the hypothalamus and/or anterior pituitary gland remains to be clarified, but the present observations indicate that pulsatile GH release throughout the normal menstrual cycle is significantly amplitude regulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-596
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

Cite this

Faria, A. C. S., Bekenstein, L. W., Booth, R. A., Vaccaro, V. A., Asplin, C. M., Veldhuis, J. D., Thorner, M. O., & Evans, W. S. (1992). Pulsatile growth hormone release in normal women during the menstrual cycle. Clinical Endocrinology, 36(6), 591-596.