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      Influence of Growth Hormone on Thymic Endocrine Activity in Humans

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          The thymus produces humoral factors that induce the proliferation and differentiation of T cells which are responsible for cell-mediated immunity. Experimental data have suggested that this thymic hormone production is modulated by the neuroendocrine network and, in particular, by growth hormone (GH) and thyroid hormones. To study the role played by GH in thymic endocrine activity in humans, the circulating level of one of the best known thymic peptides, i.e. thymulin (Zn-FTS), has been determined, after a washout period of 2 weeks without GH treatment, in GH-deficient children before and after a single injection of GH. The basal thymulin level is consistently lower in GH-deficient children than in healthy age-matched controls. A single injection of GH induces a significant increment of the thymulin level for at least 48 h. Since thymulin activity may also depend on zinc bioavailability, on thyroid hormone turnover and on the eventual presence of thymulin-inhibitory substances, all these aspects have been checked. No supporting evidence regarding the existence of these kinds of interferences in GH-deficient children has been substantiated. A positive correlation has been found between the serum level of insulin-like growth factor I, but not of GH, and thymulin activity. These data suggest that GH may directly or indirectly modulate the thymic endocrine function in humans. Whether and to what extent such a modulation is relevant to the functioning of the immune system remains to be ascertained.

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          Author and article information

          Horm Res Paediatr
          Hormone Research in Paediatrics
          S. Karger AG
          02 December 2008
          : 33
          : 6
          : 248-255
          aCenter of Immunology, Department of Gerontologic Research, Italian National Research Centers on Ageing, Ancona; b3rd Pediatric Clinics and c2nd Pediatric Clinics, University of Bologna, Italy
          181528 Horm Res 1990;33:248–255
          © 1990 S. Karger AG, Basel

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          Pages: 8
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