Growth hormone secretagogues: prospects and potential pitfalls. Academic Article uri icon


  • The growth hormone secretagogues (GHSs) are the first well-characterised agents that rejuvenate the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) axis. This property was discovered during investigations of the underlying causative mechanisms of age-related endocrine changes. Chronic administration of the long acting GHS, MK-0677, reverses the age-related decline in pulse-amplitude of GH secretion and restores IGF-1 levels producing profiles typical of young adults. This restoration is accompanied by improvements in body composition in frail elderly subjects. When given acutely, the GHSs also increase appetite. Following cloning and characterisation of the GHS-receptor (GHS-R) an endogenous ligand, ghrelin, was isolated and identified. Ghrelin shares the GH releasing and orexigenic properties of the GHSs. Studies using Ghsr-null mice confirmed that the GHS-R was the ghrelin-receptor; hence, the GHSs should be considered to be 'ghrelin mimetics.' Ghrelin levels are reported to decline during ageing, therefore long-acting GHSs are ideal candidates for ghrelin replacement therapy.

published proceedings

  • Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab

altmetric score

  • 7

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, R. G., Sun, Y., Betancourt, L., & Asnicar, M.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Smith, Roy G||Sun, Yuxiang||Betancourt, Lorena||Asnicar, Mark

publication date

  • January 2004