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A Colao, G Vitale, R Pivonello, A Ciccarelli, C Di Somma and G Lombardi

Several experimental and clinical studies have indicate that the heart is an end-organ of GH action. Patients with either childhood- or adulthood-onset GH deficiency (GHD) have abnormalities of cardiac structure and function, such as reduced cardiac mass, impaired diastolic filling and reduced left ventricular response at peak exercise. These cardiovascular abnormalities can be reversed, at least partially, after GH replacement therapy. On the other hand, the chronic overproduction of GH and IGF-I in acromegaly leads to the development of a specific cardiomyopathy. Concentric cardiac hypertrophy occurs in more than two-thirds of patients at diagnosis and is commonly associated with diastolic dysfunction. In later stages, impaired systolic function ending in heart failure can occur if GH/IGF-I excess is not controlled. Additionally, acromegalic cardiomyopathy is complicated by abnormalities of cardiac rhythm and cardiac valves. Successful control of acromegaly is accompanied by a decrease of the left ventricular mass and improvement of cardiac function. These beneficial effects appear earlier in young patients with short disease duration than in elderly patients. In conclusion, GH and IGF-I play a main role in the regulation of cardiac development and performance.

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A Colao, S Spiezia, C Di Somma, P Marzullo, G Cerbone, R Pivonello, A Faggiano and G Lombardi

BACKGROUND: The role of IGF-I in prostate development is currently under thorough investigation since it has been claimed that IGF-I is a positive predictor of prostate cancer. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effect of chronic GH and IGF-I deficiency alone or associated with testosterone deficiency on prostate pathophysiology in a series of patients with hypopituitarism. DESIGN: Pituitary, androgen and prostate hormonal assessments and transrectal prostate ultrasonography (TRUS) were performed in 30 men with adulthood onset GH deficiency (GHD) and 30 age-matched healthy controls, free from previous or concomitant prostate disorders. RESULTS: Plasma IGF-I levels were significantly lower in GHD patients than in controls (Pearson's coefficient P<0.0001). At study entry, 6 of the 13 hypogonadal patients and 7 of the 17 eugonadal patients had plasma IGF-I below the age-adjusted normal range. At study entry, testosterone levels were low in 13 patients (mean +/-s.e.m., 3.8+/-1.0 nmol/l) while they were normal in the remaining 17 (19.4+/-1.4 nmol/l). No difference in prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and PSA density was found between GHD patients (either hypo- or eugonadal) and controls, while free PSA levels were significantly higher in eugonadal GHD than in controls (0.4+/-0.04 vs 0.2+/-0.03 microg/l; P<0.01). No difference in antero-posterior prostate diameter and transitional zone volume (TZV) was observed among groups, while both transverse and cranio-caudal diameters were significantly lower in hypogonadal (P<0.01) and eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.05) than in controls. Prostate volume (PV) was significantly lower in hypogonadal GHD patients (18.2+/-3.0 ml) and eugonadal GHD patients (22.3+/-1.6 ml), than in controls (25.7+/-1.4, P<0.05). The prevalence of prostate hyperplasia (PV>30 ml) was significantly lower in hypogonadal and eugonadal GHD patients, without any difference between them (15.3% and 5.8%), than in controls (43.3%) (chi(2)=6.90, P=0.005). No difference was found in PV between patients with normal or deficient IGF-I levels both in the hypogonadal group (19. 9+/-4.7 vs 17.3+/-4.0 ml) and in the eugonadal group (22.6+/-2.3 vs 21.8+/-2.5 ml). When controls and patients were divided according to age (<60 years and >60 years), PV was significantly lower in hypogonadal GHD patients aged below 60 years than in age-matched controls (P<0.01) or eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.01), without any difference between controls and eugonadal GHD patients. Controls aged above 60 years had significantly higher PV than both hypogonadal and eugonadal GHD patients (P<0.01). Calcifications, cysts or nodules were found in 56.7% of patients and in 50% of controls (chi(2)=0.067, P=0.79). In controls, but not in GHD patients, PV and TZV were correlated with age (r=0.82, r=0.46, P<0. 0001 and P<0.01 respectively). PV was also correlated with GH (r=-0. 52, P=0.0026), IGF-I (r=-0.62, P=0.0002) and IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) levels (r=-0.39, P=0.032) but neither with testosterone or dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels. In GHD patients TZV but not PV was correlated with age (r=0.58, P=0.0007) and neither TZV nor PV were correlated with GH, IGF-I or IGFBP-3 levels. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic GH deficiency in adulthood causes a decrease in prostate size, mostly in patients with concomitant androgen deficiency and age below 60 years, without significant changes in the prevalence of structural prostate abnormalities.