Charmandari, Evangelia, Pincus, Steven M., Matthews, David R., Dennison, Elaine M., Fall, Caroline H. and Hindmarsh, Peter C.
Joint growth hormone and cortisol spontaneous secretion is more asynchronous in older females than in their male counterparts
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 86, (7), .
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In humans, cortisol and GH are secreted in a pulsatile manner, and an interaction between GH and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis has been established. In view of the sexually dimorphic pattern in GH secretion, we investigated the GH-cortisol bihormonal secretory dynamics in male and female healthy older individuals. We studied the GH and cortisol secretory patterns in 83 healthy subjects (45 men and 38 women; age range, 59.4–73.0 yr) by determining serum GH and cortisol concentrations at 20-min intervals for 24 h. The irregularity of GH and cortisol secretion was assessed using approximate entropy (ApEn), a scale- and model-independent statistic. The synchrony of joint GH-cortisol spontaneous secretion was quantified using the cross-ApEn statistic. Cross-correlation analysis of GH and cortisol patterns was computed at various time lags covering the 24-h period.
Mean 24-h serum GH concentrations were significantly higher in females (mean, 1.31 mU/L; SD, 0.87) than in males (mean, 0.88 mU/L; SD, 0.42; P = 0.009), whereas mean 24-h serum total cortisol concentrations were higher in males (mean, 9.0 µg/dL; SD, 1.4) than in females (mean, 7.3 µg/dL; SD, 1.4; P = 0.0001). GH secretion was more irregular in females (mean ApEn, 0.81; SD, 0.23) than in males (mean ApEn, 0.60; SD, 0.20; P < 0.001). No significant difference in the regularity of cortisol secretion was noted between sexes. Cross-ApEn values of paired GH-cortisol were higher in females (mean, 1.15; SD, 0.18) than in males (mean, 1.01; SD, 0.16; P = 0.0003). Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis indicated that estradiol and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 concentrations were independently related to GH ApEn values (r2 = 0.14; P = 0.01), whereas cross-ApEn values of paired GH-cortisol were best predicted by FSH concentrations (r2 = 0.37; P = 0.003). Cross-correlation analysis revealed a significant positive correlation between GH and cortisol, peaking at lag time of 4.7 h in males (r = 0.30; P < 0.0001) and 4.3 h in females (r = 0.14; P < 0.0001), with GH leading cortisol by these time intervals. In addition, a significant negative correlation between the two hormones was noted over time, peaking at 4.7 h in males (r = -0.21; P < 0.0001) and 6.3 h in females (r = -0.25; P < 0.0001), with cortisol leading GH by these time intervals.
The above results indicate that in the elderly, females have a more disordered GH secretory pattern and a more asynchronous joint GH-cortisol secretion than their male counterparts. These observations most likely reflect bidirectional interactions between the GH and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in humans as well as diminution of subsystem integrity and synchronous control of interconnected hormonal systems with advancing age.
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