Pulsatile Release of Somatotropin Related to Meal Feeding and Somatotropin Response to Secretagogues in Horses

R. A. Christensen, K. Malinowski, C. G. Scanes, H. D. Hafs

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9 Scopus citations


Our goal was to establish a time of day and(or) interval from feeding that would avoid the refractory period after a somatotropin (ST) surge and optimize the responsiveness of horses to ST secretagogues. Two experiments were conducted with eight geldings conditioned to consume grain at 0800 and 1600 daily. In Exp. 1, during a 24-h period, these geldings averaged 3.2 ± .3 pulses of ST with peak amplitude of 4.2 ± .4 ng/mL, pulse duration of 55 ± 6 min, and interpeak interval of 400 ± 57 min. No ST peaks occurred within 2 h after either grain feeding. In Exp. 2, eight geldings were given 50 μg of ST-releasing factor (STRF) at 0800. Two geldings that had a pulse of ST between 0700 and 0800 failed to respond to STRF, but the other six responded with a pulse of ST at 37 ± 3 min; peak amplitude was 4.6 ± 2.2 ng/mL and duration was 123 ± 25 min. Experiments 3 and 4 were with mares aged 20 to 26 yr and conditioned to be fed grain at 0800 daily. In Exp. 3, blood was sampled for 8 h beginning at 0500. Seven of the eight mares had a ST pulse in progress at 0500. Five additional pulses were detected, all from 0740 to 0940, but none from 0600 to 0700 or from 1000 to 1300. In Exp. 4, four of the same eight mares were given 50 μg of STRF at 0700 and the other four at 1300. Three of the four treated at 0700 and all four treated at 1300 responded to STRF with ST peaks at 20 ± 5 min; peak amplitude was 12.7 ± 9.5 ng/mL and duration was 69 ± 6 min. In Exp. 5, nine mares aged 20 to 26 yr were fed grain at 0800 and 1600 as in Exp. 1 and 2 and given a nonpeptidal ST secretagogue (STS, Merck L-163,255) i.v. at 0, 1, or 5 mg/kg (n = 3 mares/dose) at 1300. No mare had a pulse of ST during the 1 h before treatment. All six mares given STS responded with ST pulses. The ST responses to STS at 1 and 5 mg/kg did not differ (P > .05); time to ST peak was 35 ± 4 min, pulse amplitude was 24.0 ± 6.3 ng/mL, and pulse duration was 100 ± 9 min. We conclude that mares and geldings fed grain once or twice daily usually have a period of 2 to 5 h after feeding with no ST pulses. When horses are fed grain at 0800, one may give a ST secretagogue at 1300 to avoid a refractory period and improve the probability of an ST response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2770-2777
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


  • Diurnal Activity
  • Feeding
  • Secretion
  • Somatotropin


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