Vancoevorden, A × Mockel, J Laurent, E Kerkhofs, M Lhermitebaleriaux, M Decoster, Christiaan Neve, P Vancauter, E #
Amer physiological soc
American journal of physiology vol:260 issue:4 pages:E651-E661
To delineate the physiological effects of aging on basal levels and temporal patterns of neuroendocrine secretions, the 24-h profiles of cortisol, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), melatonin, prolactin, and growth hormone (GH) levels were simultaneously obtained at frequent intervals in eight healthy, active elderly men, age 67-84 yr and in eight young male adults, age 20-27 yr. The study was preceded by an extended period of habituation to laboratory conditions, and sleep was polygraphically recorded. Mean cortisol levels in the elderly were normal, but the amplitude of the circadian rhythm was reduced. Circulating levels of daytime and nighttime levels of both TSH and GH were greatly diminished in old age. In contrast, prolactin and melatonin concentrations were decreased during the nighttime only. The circadian rises of cortisol, TSH, and melatonin occurred 1-1.5 h earlier in elderly subjects, and the distribution of rapid-eye-movement stages during sleep was similarly advanced, suggesting that circadian timekeeping is modified during normal senescence. Despite perturbations of sleep, sleep-related release of GH and prolactin occurred in all elderly men. Age-related decreases in hormonal levels were associated with a decrease in the amplitude, but not the frequency, of secretory pulses. These findings demonstrate that the normal process of aging involves alterations in the central mechanisms controlling the temporal organization of endocrine release in addition to a reduction of secretory outputs.