Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 27, Issue 3–4, pp 227–242

Growth Hormone Endocrinology of Salmonids: Regulatory Mechanisms and Mode of Action

  • Björn Thrandur Björnsson
  • Viktoria Johansson
  • Susana Benedet
  • Ingibjörg Eir Einarsdottir
  • Jon Hildahl
  • Thorleifur Agustsson
  • Elisabeth Jönsson


The focus of this review is on the regulatory mechanisms and the mode of action of GH in salmonids. To stimulate further research, it aims at highlighting areas where numerous important breakthroughs have recently been made, as well as where data are currently lacking. The regulation of GH secretion is under complex hypothalamic control, as well as under negative feedback control by GH and IGF-I. Further, the recently characterized ghrelin is a potent GH secretagogue, and may prove to be a link between feed intake and growth regulation. GH plasma profiles show indications of diurnal changes, but whether salmonids have true pulsatile GH secretion remains to be elucidated. The recent cloning and characterization of the salmon GH receptor (GHR) is a major research break-through which will give new insights into the mechanisms of GH action. It should also stimulate research into circulating GH-binding proteins (GHBPs), as they appear to be a soluble form of the GHR. The salmonid GHR sequences show evolutionary divergence from other fish species, but with a high degree of identity within the salmonid group. Radioreceptorassay studies have found GHR present in all tissues examined, which is in line with the highly pleiotropic action of GH. Data are currently scarce on the plasma dynamics of GH in salmonids, and further studies on GHR and GHBPs dynamics coupled to assessments of GH clearance rates and pathways are needed. The direct versus indirect nature of GH action remains to be clarified, but GH appears to act both locally at the target tissue level to stimulate the autocrine/paracrine action of IGF-I, as well as on the liver to increase plasma IGF-I levels. In addition, GH interacts with other hormones such as cortisol, thyroid hormones, insulin, and reproductive hormones, generating a wide range of physiological effects. GH may act both peripherally and directly at the level of the central nervous system to modify behavior, probably by altering the dopaminergic activity in the brain.

growth hormone GH insulin-like growth factor I IGF-I regulation secretion clearance GH-receptor GHR GH-binding-proteins GHBP Oncorhynchus Salmo review 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Björn Thrandur Björnsson
    • 1
  • Viktoria Johansson
    • 1
  • Susana Benedet
    • 1
  • Ingibjörg Eir Einarsdottir
    • 1
  • Jon Hildahl
    • 1
  • Thorleifur Agustsson
    • 1
  • Elisabeth Jönsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Fish Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Zoology/ZoophysiologyGöteborg UniversityGöteborgSweden

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