Figure 4. Hypothalamic GH releasing hormone and somatostatin establish the pulsatile pituitary GH secretion that is established as the main regulator of endocrine and paracrine/autocrine IGF-I production during the first year of life in humans. Insulin is permissive for this regulation by modulating GHR signaling, and normal beta-cell release of insulin is required for normal liver derived endocrine IGF-I levels measured in serum (blue insert) that in most cases is a good marker of the local production and actions of IGF-I. During fasting the GH regulation of IGF-I is uncoupled, resulting in decreased IGF-I (and catabolism) and elevated GH secretion and maintained lipolytic signals securing gluconeogenesis and preventing hypoglycemia. Apart from insulin, the endocrine thyroid axis is important for normal GH induced IGF-I production and during pubertal development sex steroids from the gonads enhance the performance of the GH-IGF-axis presumable by relaxation of the negative IGF-I feedback on GH secretion allowing a higher set-point of the axis. Whether this is an estradiol effect is not fully elucidated but it is suggested by the fact that non-aromatizable androgens such as oxandrolone do not affect IGF-I levels. The actions of the adrenal axis are most likely local and involve actions on IGF1R signaling leading to apoptosis of stem cells in the growth plate and thus irreversible loss of height. Cortisol excess leaves endocrine IGF-I and GH levels largely unaffected.