Excessive glucocorticoid concentrations are well recognized inhibitors of linear growth, due in part to their suppression of GH secretion. The mechanism of this inhibition has been unclear, especially since glucocorticoids enhance the in vitro GH response of pituitary cells to GH-releasing hormone (GHRH). We investigated the possibility that hypothalamic somatostatin might be mediating these dichotomous observations by using passive immunization techniques. The GH response to GHRH was significantly blunted in rats pretreated with the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, compared to that in normal animals. In marked contrast, the immunoneutralization of somatostatin resulted in a significantly enhanced GH response to GHRH in dexamethasone-treated animals. These results suggest that the previously described inhibitory action of glucocorticoids on GH secretion in vivo are mediated via altered hypothalamic somatostatin tone.
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