TRH is a tonic secretagogue in growth hormone secreting but not in nonfunctioning pituitary tumors

D. Somjen, K. Tordjman, Y. Greenman, F. Kohen, G. E. Ouaknine, N. Stern*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In most patients with growth hormone (GH) secreting pituitary adenomas and clinically nonfunctioning pituitary tumors (NFPT) the intravenous injection of thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) augments the secretion of GH and subunits of gonadotropin hormones respectively. Similar hormone responses to TRH have been detected in rat pituitary cell lines and in primary human pituitary tumor cultures in vitro. Nevertheless the TRH effect on tumor hormonal secretion has not been well characterized. In the present study we examined TRH-induced hormone secretion in GH secreting tumors and in NFPT in vitro. Cultured cells secreted βLH and βFSH (NFPT) or GH (GH secreting adenomas) up to 14 days in culture. In NFPT TRH (10-8 mol/l) elicited peak βLH and βFSH secretion at 60 to 90 min, with no further increase at 24 h. TRH-stimulated GH secretion peaked at 90-120 min, and decreased after 3 h, but a secondary rise occurred after 24 h of incubation. Chronic daily exposure to TRH followed by an acute TRH challenge resulted in a further increase of GH secretion after one hour. In contrast, acute TRH administration following chronic exposure did not elicit increased β-subunits secretion in NFPT. Coadministration of cycloheximide did not change TRH induced β-subunits secretion in NFPT. However, when it was administered 24 h prior to TRH, it blocked both basal and TRH induced β-subunits levels in NFPT. Cycloheximide had no effect on basal or stimulated GH secretion when administered concomitantly or 24 h before TRH. Incubation of cultured GH secreting tumors with cycloheximide during 5 days blocked both basal and TRH stimulated GH secretion, thus indicating dependency on protein synthesis during the chronic, secondary phase. Since the acute secretion was not affected by coadministration of cycloheximide, these early increases in hormone levels apparently reflect the release of stored hormone. In summary, GH secreting adenomas and NFPT differ significantly in their hormonal response to continuous exposure to TRH. The mechanisms underlying the sustained effect of TRH on GH secretion in vitro remain to be investigated. If endogenous TRH exerts a similar continuous effect it may contribute to the disregulated GH secretion in acromegaly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-108
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Acromegaly
  • Growth hormone
  • Nonfunctioning pituitary tumors
  • TRH
  • βFSH
  • βLH


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