Growth hormone-releasing peptides and their analogs / F. Camanni, E. Ghigo, E. Arvat
- Frontiers in neuroendocrinology 19 (1998) 1 (January); p. 47-72
- PMID: 9465289
- DOI: 10.1006/frne.1997.0158
Growth hormone-releasing peptides (GHRPs) are a series of hepta (GHRP-1)- and hexapeptides (GHRP-2, GHRP-6, Hexarelin) that have been shown to be effective releasers of GH in animals and humans. More recently, a series of nonpeptidyl GH secretagogues (L-692,429, L-692,585, MK-0677) were discovered using GHRP-6 as a template. Some cyclic peptides as well as penta-, tetra-, and pseudotripeptides have also been described. This review summarizes recent developments in our understanding of the GHRPs, as well as the current nonpeptide pharmacologic analogs. GHRPs and their analogs have no structural homology with GHRH and act via specific receptors present at either the pituitary or the hypothalamic level. The GHRP receptor has recently been cloned and it does not show sequence homology with other G-protein-coupled receptors known so far. This evidence strongly suggests the existence of a natural GHRP-like ligand which, however, has not yet been found. Although the exact mechanism of action of GHRPs has not been fully established, there is probably a dual site of action on both the pituitary and the hypothalamus, possibly involving regulatory factors in addition to GHRH and somatostatin. Moreover, the possibility that GHRPs act via an unknown hypothalamic factor (U factor) is still open. The marked GH-releasing activity of GHRPs is reproducible and dose-related after intravenous, subcutaneous, intranasal, and even oral administration. The GH-releasing effect of GHRPs is the same in both sexes, but undergoes age-related variations. It increases from birth to puberty and decreases in aging. The GH-releasing activity of GHRPs is synergistic with that of GHRH and not affected by opioid receptor antagonists, while it is only blunted by inhibitory influences that are known to nearly abolish the effect of GHRH, such as neurotransmitters, glucose, free fatty acids, glucocorticoids, rhGH, and even exogenous somatostatin. GHRPs maintain their GH-releasing effect in somatotrope hypersecretory states, such as acromegaly, anorexia nervosa, and hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, GHRPs and their analogs have been reported to be effective in idiopathic short stature, in some situations of GH deficiency, in obesity, and in hypothyroidism, while in patients with pituitary stalk disconnection and in Cushing's syndrome the somatotrope responsiveness to GHRPs is almost absent. A potential role in the treatment of short stature, aging, catabolic states, and dilated cardiomyopathy has been envisaged.