Growth hormone-releasing hormone: Not only a neurohormone
Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) is mostly thought to act by stimulating the production and release of growth hormone from the pituitary. However, this neuropeptide emerges as a rather pleiotropic hormone in view of the identification of various extrapituitary sources for GHRH production, as well as the demonstration of a direct action of GHRH on several tissues other than the pituitary. Non-pituitary GHRH has a wide spectrum of activity, exemplified by its ability to modulate cell proliferation, especially in malignant tissues, to regulate differentiation of some cell types, and to promote healing of skin wounds. These findings extend the role of GHRH and its analogs beyond its accepted regulation of somatotropic activity and indicate new possibilities for therapeutic intervention.