Little is currently known about the factors controlling somatostatin secretion. A radioimmunoassay has been developed that is sufficiently specific and sensitive to be used for physiological studies of circulating levels in man. During insulin-induced hypoglycaemia a rise in plasma somatostatin was seen in each of ten subjects studies. Although this paralleled the rise in circulating glucagon and growth hormone, no individual relationships were found either between these variables or to any change in cortisol or insulin C-peptide. In contrast no rise in somatostatin was seen during surgical stress. Thus, contrary to expectation, circulating somatostatin levels can be altered by metabolic stimuli. It seems likely that this peptide may serve an endocrine as well as a paracrine role since its modulating effects may occur not only near to but also at a distance from the site of secretion. It is not yet clear whether the somatostatin measured comes from the hypothalamus, any other part of the central nervous system or the gastrointestinal tract.
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