The two classes of GH secretagogs - GH-releasing hormone (GHRH) and the GH-releasing peptides and their analogs (GHRP's) - retain their ability to endogenous GH secretion in healthy and frail elderly subjects. They have very limited utility in assessment of the state of the GH/IGF-I axis except to confirm an intact pituitary, but they are attractive potential alternatives to GH as therapeutic agents. There is wide interest in the possibility that elevating GH and IGF-I might increase muscle mass, physical strength and performance, and possibly sleep and cognition in aging. The GH secretagogs, like GH, can produce a sustained stimulation of this axis; in contrast to GH, they preserve feedback regulation at the pituitary level and stimulate a near-physiologic pulsatile pattern of GH release. GHRP's and their nonpeptide analogs are also active when given orally, a significant practical advantage. Short-term treatment studies have shown that GHRH and the GHRP's can enhance GH secretion and elevate IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels; that GHRH may promote sleep; and that these agents are generally well tolerated. Longer-term studies assessing effects upon body composition and physical and psychological function are underway.
- GH-releasing hormone (GHRH)
- GH-releasing peptide (GHRP)
- Growth hormone (GH)
- Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism