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From growth hormone-releasing peptides to ghrelin: discovery of new modulators of GH secretion

Dos peptídeos liberadores do hormônio de crescimento (HC) à ghrelina: descoberta de novos moduladores da secreção de HC

Growth hormone (GH)-releasing hormone and somatostatin modulate GH secretion. A third mechanism has been discovered in the last decade, involving the action of GH secretagogues. Ghrelin is a new acylated peptide produced mainly by the stomach, but also synthesized in the hypothalamus. This compound increases both GH release and food intake. The relative roles of hypothalamic and circulating ghrelin on GH secretion are still unknown. Endogenous ghrelin might amplify the basic pattern of GH secretion, optimizing somatotroph responsiveness to GH-releasing hormone. This peptide activates multiple interdependent intracellular pathways at the somatotroph, involving protein kinase C, protein kinase A and extracellular calcium systems. However, as ghrelin induces a greater release of GH in vivo, its main site of action is the hypothalamus. In this paper we review the available data on the discovery of ghrelin, the mechanisms of action and possible physiological roles of GH secretagogues and ghrelin on GH secretion, and, finally, the regulation of GH release in man after intravenous administration of these peptides.

Ghrelin; GH; Growth hormone secretagogues; GHS

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