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Gerra G.; Caccavari, R.; Fontanesi, B.; Affini, G. Fertonani; Maestri, D.; Avanzini, P.; Zaimovic, A.; Franchini, D.; Delsignore, R.
International Clinical Psychopharmacology: November 1995
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Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) has been recently used in alcohol detoxification, but conflicting data are available concerning the central mechanism of action of this GABA catabolite. GHB ability to stimulate growth hormone (GH) secretion has been reported. Our previous studies revealed the ability of flumazenil (a benzodiazepine antagonist) to counteract GHB effects on GH secretion. Other hypotheses, including an opioid or serotonergic role of GHB, have been considered. In the present study we investigated GH responses to GHB with or without naloxone (an opiate receptor antagonist) or metergoline (a serotonin receptor antagonist) pretreatment. This study included 10 male healthy volunteers (aged 24.3 ± 2.9 years) who were submitted to four tests in random order: (A) oral GHB administration; (B) oral GHB and i.v. naloxone administration; (C) oral GHB and oral metergoline administration; and (D) oral placebo and i.v. saline administration. Blood samples for GH assay were collected during the three tests at −15, 0, 15, 30, 45, 60 and 90 min. GHB induced a significant increase in GH plasma levels; naloxone pretreatment did not antagonize GHB action on GH secretion; metergoline significantly decreased GH response to GHB (p < 0.05). No changes were obtained with placebo and saline administration. The opioid system does not seem to be involved in GHB effects on GH-secreting pituitary cells; GHB effects on the serotonergic system influencing GH secretion, on the other hand, cannot be excluded.

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