Hypothalamic agents can inhibit or stimulate the release of hormones from the anterior pituitary using hormones or factors. However, not all of these hormones are available for pharmacological use.
Stimulating factors (agonists) include growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), and prolactin-releasing hormone (PRH).
Factors that inhibit (antagonists) include somatostatin (growth hormone-inhibiting factor) and prolactin-inhibiting factor.
Hypothalamic Agents: Generic and Brand Names
Here is a table of commonly encountered endocrine system drugs, their generic names, and brand names:
|Classification||Generic Name||Brand Name|
The desired and beneficial action of hypothalamic agents is:
- Not clearly identified as there are only minute quantities found.
- Not all of them are used as pharmacological agents. Some are used for diagnostic purposes only and others are primarily used as antineoplastic agents.
- Tesamorelin is used to stimulate GH and its lipolytic effects, helping to decrease the excess abdominal fat in HIV-infected patients with lipodystrophy.
Hypothalamic agents are indicated for the following medical conditions:
- Hypothalamic hormones are not all available for pharmacological use; those that are available are used mostly for diagnostic testing, for treating some forms of cancer, or as adjuncts in fertility programs.
- Agonists like goserelin, histrelin, leuprolide, and nafarelin are analogues of GnRH. They decrease production of sex hormones. They are used as treatment for precocious puberty, endometriosis, and advanced prostate cancer.
- Antagonists of GnRH like degarelix and ganirelix are used as treatment for advanced prostate cancer and inhibition of premature LH surge in women undergoing controlled ovarian stimulation for fertility.
Here are some important aspects to remember for indication of hypothalamic agents in different age groups:
- Monitor closely for adverse effects associated with changes in overall endocrine function, particularly growth and development and metabolism.
- Standard part of treatment plan should include periodic radiograph of long bones and monitoring of blood sugar and electrolytes.
- Monitor blood sugar and electrolytes.
- Review proper administration of nasal forms of drugs for diabetes insipidus to prevent complications.
- Review proper storage, preparation, and administration of regular injections.
- Drugs should not be used among pregnant and lactating women unless benefits clearly outweigh the risks.
- Evaluate hydration, nutrition, and electrolyte balance periodically.
- Review proper administration technique because they are at high risk for dehydrated membranes and ulcerations.
Here are the characteristic interactions of hypothalamic agents and the body in terms of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion:
|IM depot||4 h||Variable||1,2,3, or 4 mo|
|T1/2: 3 h
Contraindications and Cautions
The following are contraindications and cautions for the use of hypothalamic agents:
- Allergy to any component of the drug. To prevent hypersensitivity reactions.
- Peripheral vascular disorders. Can alter absorption of drugs.
- Rhinitis. Alters absorption of nafarelin nasal spray.
- Renal or hepatic impairment. Interfere with drug metabolism and excretion.
- Pregnancy or lactation. Potential adverse effects to fetus or neonates.
Use of hypothalamic agents may result to these adverse effects:
- Agonists: increased release of sex hormones, ovarian overstimulation, flushing, increased temperature and appetite, fluid retention
- Antagonists: decreased testosterone level, loss of energy, decreased sperm count and activity, alterations in secondary sex characteristics (decrease in female sex hormones, amenorrhea), fluid and electrolyte changes, insomnia, irritability
Drug interactions of hypothalamic agents are related to the specific hormones that the drug is affecting. They will be discussed in detail as each agents for specific hormones will be covered in this study guide.
The specific nursing care of patient who is receiving hypothalamic releasing factor is related to the hormone(s) that the drug is affecting. This will be discussed further as each drugs affecting certain hormones will be covered in this study guide.
Practice Quiz: Hypothalamic Agents
1. All of these drugs can decrease the production of sex hormones, except:
1. Answer: C. degarelix
Options A, B, and D are all hypothalamic agonists and can, therefore, decrease the production of sex hormones. Agonists inhibit pituitary gonadotropin secretion, with a resultant drop in the production of sex hormones.
2. Which of the following health history data will alert the nurse to question the use of hypothalamic agents in a short-term therapy?
A. history of hepatic lobe transplant three years ago
B. a mother who practices mixed feeding to her newborn baby
C. a chest x-ray suggestive of pneumonia
D. fever probably caused by post-surgical wound infection
2. Answer: B. a mother who practices mixed feeding to her newborn baby
Hypothalamic agents should be cautioned in lactating mothers because of potential adverse effects to the neonate. All other options are not contraindicated.
3. Knowing hypothalamic agonists’ effect to the sex hormones, which of the following medical conditions can they be used?
C. precocious puberty
D. Both B and C
3. Answer: D. Both B and C
Agonists can decrease the production of sex hormones. Medical conditions like endometriosis and precocious puberty are characterized by increased sex hormones. Infertility will best benefit from hypothalamic antagonists.
4. This drug decreases the abdominal fat in HIV-infected patients with lipodystrophy.
4. Answer: A. tesamorelin
It does this through stimulating the lipolytic effect of growth hormones.
5. Which of the following should be monitored closely in patients receiving hypothalamic agents?
A. serum sodium and potassium levels
B. blood sugar level
C. all of the above
D. none of the above
5. Answer: C. all of the above
In patients receiving hypothalamic agents, the nurse should monitor closely for adverse effects associated with changes in overall endocrine function, particularly growth and development and metabolism. Other aspects to be monitored include periodic radiograph of long bones, hydration, and nutrition.
References and Sources
References and sources for this pharmacology guide for Hypothalamic Agents:
- Karch, A. M., & Karch. (2011). Focus on nursing pharmacology. Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. [Link]
- Katzung, B. G. (2017). Basic and clinical pharmacology. McGraw-Hill Education.
- Lehne, R. A., Moore, L. A., Crosby, L. J., & Hamilton, D. B. (2004). Pharmacology for nursing care.
- Smeltzer, S. C., & Bare, B. G. (1992). Brunner & Suddarth’s textbook of medical-surgical nursing. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott.
Here are other nursing pharmacology study guides:
Gastrointestinal System Drugs
Respiratory System Drugs
- Bronchodilators and Antiasthmatics
- Expectorants and Mucolytics
- Inhaled Steroids
- Lung Surfactants
Endocrine System Drugs
- Adrenocortical Agents
- Antidiabetic Agents
- Glucose-Elevating Agents
- Hypothalamic Agents
- Parathyroid Agents: Bisphosphonates, Calcitonins
- Pituitary Drugs
- Thyroid Agents
Autonomic Nervous System Drugs
- Adrenergic Agonists (Sympathomimetics)
- Adrenergic Antagonists (Sympatholytics)
- Anticholinergics (Parasympatholytics)
- Cholinergic Agonists (Parasympathomimetics)
Immune System Drugs
- Antiarthritic Drugs
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
- Anti-Infective Drugs
- Antineoplastic Agents
- Antiprotozoal Drugs
- Antiviral Drugs
Reproductive System Drugs
Nervous System Drugs
- Antiparkinsonism Drugs
- Antiseizure Drugs
- Anxiolytics and Hypnotic Drugs
- General and Local Anesthetics
- Muscle Relaxants
- Narcotics, Narcotic Agonists, and Antimigraine Agents
- Neuromuscular Junction Blocking Agents
- Psychotherapeutic Drugs
Cardiovascular System Drugs
- Antianginal Drugs
- Antiarrhythmic Drugs
- Antihyperlipidemic Drugs
- Antihypertensive Drugs
- Cardiotonic-Inotropic Drugs
- Drugs Affecting Coagulation
Further Reading and External Links
Recommended resources and reference books. Disclosure: Includes Amazon affiliate links.
- Focus on Nursing Pharmacology - Easy to follow guide for Pharmacology
- NCLEX-RN Drug Guide: 300 Medications You Need to Know for the Exam - Great if you're reviewing for the NCLEX
- Nursing 2017 Drug Handbook (Nursing Drug Handbook) - Reliable nursing drug handbook!
- Lehne's Pharmacology for Nursing Care - Provides key information on commonly used drugs in nursing
- Pharmacology and the Nursing Process - Learn how to administer drugs correctly and safely!
- Pharm Phlash Cards!: Pharmacology Flash Cards - Flash Cards for Nursing Pharmacology