Hexarelin, a growth hormone - Releasing peptide, counteracts bone loss in gonadectomized male rats

Department of Pharmacology, Chemotherapy and Medical Toxicology, University of Milano, Italy.
Growth Hormone & IGF Research (Impact Factor: 1.41). 09/1999; 9(4):219-27. DOI: 10.1054/ghir.1999.0105
Source: PubMed


The age-related decline in growth hormone (GH) secretion has been implicated in the pathogenesis of involutional bone loss. Whether restoration of GH secretion might be helpful in maintaining and/or improving bone mass during aging is still unsettled. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of 30-day treatment with hexarelin (HEXA, 50 microg/kg subcutaneously b.i.d.), a highly effective GH-releasing compound, on bone metabolism and bone mineral density (BMD) in intact and osteopenic gonadectomized (GDX) mature male rats. Serum total alkaline phosphatase (ALP, bone formation marker) and bone resorption markers (lysylpyridinoline, LP and hydroxylysylpyridinoline, HP) were measured before and 7, 14 and 30 days after treatment. BMD was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at lumbar vertebrae, femoral metaphysis and diaphysis before and at the end of the experiment. In intact rats, HEXA significantly (P<0.05) decreased LP (-36.3%) and HP (-22.8%) excretion at day 7, whereas it did not change serum ALP activity and BMDs. In GDX rats, HEXA completely prevented the significant (P<0. 01) increase in urinary excretion of both LP (+143.8%) and HP (+119. 4%), the early decrease in ALP activity (-26.5%) and the significant (P<0.05) decrease in BMDs in the femoral metaphysis (-7.9%) and lumbar vertebrae (-6.8%) caused by androgen deficiency. The bone-protective effects of HEXA could be attributed, at least in part, to its GH-releasing activity since chronic-treated rats maintained the GH response to an acute challenge with HEXA. The evidence that HEXA, unlike GH, inhibits bone resorption indicates that other mechanisms contribute to the bone sparing effect of HEXA.

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    • "In vivo, ghrelin may have an indirect effect on bone through its stimulation of GH release. However, the GHS-R1a agonist hexarelin inhibits markers of bone resorption in the rat, an effect not observed with GH treatment (Sibilia et al. 1999). This suggests that GH secretagogues may have GH-independent effects on bone in rodents. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies demonstrate widespread expression of ghrelin among tissues and have uncovered its pleiotropic nature. We have examined gene expression of ghrelin and its two receptor splice variants, growth hormone secretagogue receptors (GHS-R) 1a and 1b, in human bone biopsies and in the human pre-osteoblastic SV-HFO cell line during differentiation. Additionally, we examined proliferative effects of ghrelin and unacylated ghrelin (UAG) in differentiating and non-differentiating cells. We detected GHS-R1b mRNA in human bone and osteoblasts but not ghrelin's cognate receptor GHS-R1a, using two different real-time PCR assays and both total RNA and mRNA. In osteoblasts GHS-R1b mRNA expression remained low during the first 14 days of culture, but increased 300% in differentiating cells by day 21. Both human bone biopsies and osteoblasts expressed ghrelin mRNA, and osteoblasts were found to secrete ghrelin. Overall, ghrelin gene expression was greater in differentiating than non-differentiating osteoblasts, but was not increased during culture in either group. Ghrelin and UAG induced thymidine uptake dose-dependently, peaking at 1 and 10 nM respectively, at day 6 of culture in both non-differentiating and differentiating osteoblasts. The proliferative response to ghrelin and UAG declined with culture time and state of differentiation. The proliferative effects of ghrelin and UAG were suppressed by inhibitors of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and phosphoinositide-3 kinase, and both peptides rapidly induced ERK phosphorylation. Overall, our data suggest new roles for ghrelin and UAG in modulating human osteoblast proliferation via a novel signal transduction pathway.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2006 · Journal of Endocrinology
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    • "The possibility that ghrelin could be involved in the control of bone metabolism is also strengthened by the observation that gastrectomy induces osteopaenia (Bussabergher et al. 1938, Ivy 1940, Rümenappf et al. 1997) and that the acid-producing (oxyntic) mucosa (where ghrelin is synthesized) is important for bone metabolism (Lehto-Axtelius et al. 1998). Providing support for this hypothesis, we have previously reported that hexarelin (HEXA), a synthetic GHS, was capable of counteracting bone loss in male gonadectomized rats (Sibilia et al. 1999). Similarly, oral administration of GHS compounds was reported to increase bone turnover in humans (Svensson et al. 2001). "
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    ABSTRACT: It has previously been reported that growth hormone secretagogues (GHS) may have a role in the regulation of bone metabolism in animals and humans. In this study we evaluated the effect of ghrelin, the endogenous ligand of GHS receptors, on the proliferation rate and on osteoblast activity in primary cultures of rat calvaria osteoblasts. In the same experiments, we compared the effects of ghrelin with those of hexarelin (HEXA) and EP-40737, two synthetic GHS with different characteristics. Both ghrelin and HEXA (10(-11)-10(-8) M) significantly stimulated osteoblast proliferation at low concentrations (10(-10) M). Surprisingly, EP-40737 demonstrated an antiproliferative effect at 10(-9)-10(-8) M, whereas lower concentrations had no effect on cell proliferation. Ghrelin and HEXA significantly increased alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and osteocalcin (OC) production. At variance with these peptides, EP-40737 did not significantly stimulate ALP and OC. The mRNA for GHS-R1a receptors and the corresponding protein were detected in calvarial osteoblasts by RT-PCR and Western blot respectively, indicating that ghrelin and GHS may bind and activate this specific receptor. We conclude that endogenous ghrelin and synthetic GHS modulate proliferation and differentiation of rat osteoblasts, probably by acting on their specific receptor.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Journal of Endocrinology
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    ABSTRACT: New data support a role for growth hormone secretagogue receptor agonists as rejuvenating agents. Two enzymes critical for the formation of beta-amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease have been identified. Estrogen receptor beta continues to emerge as a potential drug target. The orphan nuclear receptor Nurr1 appears to be a target for treatment of Parkinson's disease, and propargylamines are emerging as inhibitors of oxidative damage in neurons.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2000 · Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
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