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Jens J Christiansen, Jens M Bruun, Jens S Christiansen, Jens Otto Jørgensen and Claus H Gravholt


Adrenal derived androgens are low in women with adrenal failure. The physiological consequences of substitution therapy are uncertain.


To investigate the effects of DHEA substitution in women with adrenal failure on body composition, fuel metabolism, and inflammatory markers.

Design, participants and intervention

In this study, ten female patients (median age 38.5 years, range 28–52) with adrenal failure were treated with DHEA 50 mg for 6 months in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, and crossover study. The participants underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan, computed tomography scan of abdominal fat, indirect calorimetry, bicycle ergometry, muscle and fat biopsies, and blood samples.


Baseline androgens were normalized to fertile range during active treatment. Anthropometric data were unaffected, but lean body mass (LBM) slightly increased compared with placebo (delta LBM (kg) placebo versus DHEA: −0.48±6.1 vs 1.6±3.4, P=0.02) with no alterations in total or abdominal fat mass. PTH increased with DHEA, but no significant changes were observed in other bone markers or in bone mineral content. The mRNA levels of markers of tissue inflammation (adiponectin, interleukin 6 (IL6), IL10, monocyte chemoattractant protein 1, and tumor necrosis factor α) in fat and muscle tissue were unaffected by DHEA treatment, as was indirect calorimetry and maximal oxygen uptake. A high proportion of self-reported seborrheic side effects were recorded (60%).


In female adrenal failure, normalization of androgens with DHEA 50 mg for 6 months had no effects on muscle, fat, and bone tissue and on fuel metabolism in this small study. A small increase in LBM was observed. Treatment was associated with a high frequency of side effects.

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Torben Laursen, Birgitte Grandjean, Jens OL Jørgensen and Jens S Christiansen

Laursen T, Grandjean B, Jørgensen JOL, Christiansen JS. Bioavailability and bioactivity of three different doses of nasal growth hormone (GH) administered to GH-deflcient patients: comparison with intravenous and subcutaneous administration. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;135:309–15. ISSN 0804–4643

The current mode of growth hormone (GH) replacement therapy is daily subcutaneous (sc) injections given in the evening. This schedule is unable to mimic the endogenous pulsatile pattern of GH secretion, which might be of importance for the induction of growth and other GH actions. The present study was conducted in order to study the pharmacokinetics of different doses of GH following intranasal (IN) administration and the biological activity of GH after IN administration as compared with sc and intravenous (iv) delivery. Sixteen GH-deficient patients were studied on five different occasions. On three occasions GH was administered intranasally in doses of 0.05, 0.10 and 0.20IU/kg, using didecanoyl-l-α-phosphatidylcholine as an enhancer. On the other two occasions the patients received an sc injection (0.10IU/kg) and an iv injection (0.015IU/kg) of GH, respectively. The nasal doses and the sc injection were given in random order in a crossover design. In a double-blinded manner the subjects received the three nasal doses as one puff in each nostril. The patients received no GH treatment between the five studies or during the last week before the start of each study. Intravenous administration produced a short-lived serum GH peak value of 128.12 ± 6.71 μg/l. Peak levels were 13.98±1.63 μg/l after sc injection and 3.26±0.38. 7.07±0.80 and 8.37± 1.31 μg/l, respectively, after the three nasal doses. The peak values of the 0.05 and the 0.20IU/kg nasal doses were significantly different (p = 0.007). The mean levels obtained by the low nasal dose were significantly lower than those obtained with the medium (p < 0.001) and the high dose (p < 0.001). while there was no significant difference between the medium and the high doses. The absolute bioavailability of GH following sc relative to iv administration was 49.5%. The bioavailabilities of the nasal doses were: 7.8% (0.05 IU), 8.9% (0.10 IU) and 3.8% (0.20 IU). Serum insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) levels increased significantly after sc administration only. Mean levels were significantly higher after sc administration as compared with the iv and all three nasal does (p < 0.001). Serum IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) levels remained unchanged on all five occasions. Mean serum IGFBP-1 levels were significantly lower after sc GH injection than after administration of the iv (p < 0.001) and the three nasal doses (p < 0.005). Subcutaneous GH administration resulted in significantly higher levels of serum insulin and blood glucose (p < 0.001). In conclusion, the bioavailability of nasal GH was low (3.8–8.9%). An iv bolus injection of, on average, 1 IU of GH induced no metabolic response. Only sc GH administration induced increased levels of IGF-I, insulin and glucose. These data reveal that a closer imitation of the physiological GH pulses than achieved by sc GH administration is of limited importance for the induction of a metabolic response to GH.

Torben Laursen, Medical Department M (Diabetes & Endocrinology), Aarhus Kommunehospital, DK-8000 Aarhus C. Denmark

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Torben Laursen, Jens OL Jorgensen, Hans Ørskov, Jens Møller, Alan G Harris and Jens S Christiansen

Animal studies have demonstrated that in addition to inhibiting growth hormone (GH) secretion octreotide inhibits in a direct manner hepatic or peripheral insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) generation. To test this hypothesis in humans we studied ten GH-deficient patients with frequent blood sampling during 38 h on two occasions. Regular GH therapy was discontinued 72 h prior to each study period. At the start of each study a subcutaneous (sc) injection of GH (3 IU/m2) was given (at 18.00 h). In a single-blinded crossover design, patients received a continuous sc infusion of either octerotide (200 μg/24 h) or placebo (saline). The pharmacokinetics of GH were similar on the two occasions. The area under the curve±sem of serum GH was 142.5±53.6 μg·l−1·h−1 (octreotide) and 144.8±41.8 μg·l−1·h−1 (placebo), (p=0.73); Cmax (μg/l) was 12.5±1.47 (octreotide) and 12.8±1.42 (placebo) (p=0.83), and Tmax (h) was 6.1±0.97 (octreotide) and 5.2±0.65 (placebo) (p=0.49). Growth hormone administration was associated with an increase in serum IGF-I (μg/l), which was identical during the two studies, from 85.3±19.4 to 174.25±30.3 for octreotide and from 97.0±26.4 to 158.8±28.2 for placebo. Mean IGF-I levels (μg/l) were 138.2±25.1 (octreotide) and 134.5±28.6 (placebo) (p=0.78). Similarly, the increase in IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) levels was identical. Mean IGFBP-3 levels (μg/l) were 2303±323 (octreotide) and 2200±361 (placebo) (p=0.25). Mean insulin levels were significantly lower during octreotide treatment (39.9±17.9 mU/l) than during placebo (59.7±17.8 mU/l) (p<0.05). Mean blood glucose levels were elevated significantly during octreotide infusion (5.98±0.23 mmol/l for octreotide and 5.07±0.16 mmol/l for placebo; p=0.001). Glucagon levels decreased non-significantly (p=0.07) and IGFBP-1 levels tended to increase during infusion of octreotide although not significantly (p=0.41). Levels of the lipid intermediates were identical on the two occasions. Alanine and lactate levels were significantly increased during octreotide infusion. Mean levels of blood alanine (μmol/l) were 470.8±24.2 (octreotide) and 360.1±17.8 (placebo) (p<0.02). Mean levels of blood lactate were 1038±81.0 (octreotide) and 894.4±73.8 (placebo) (p<0.04). We conclude that short-term continuous sc infusion of octreotide has no direct effect on the generation of IGF-I or the pharmacokinetics of exogenous GH in GH-deficient man.

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Jens Bollerslev, Jens Møller, Sian Thomas, Ole Djøseland and Jens S Christiansen

Bollerslev J, Møller J, Thomas S, Djøseland O, Christiansen JS. Dose-dependent effects of recombinant human growth hormone on biochemical markers of bone and collagen metabolism in adult growth hormone deficiency. Eur J Endocrinol 1996:135:666–71. ISSN 0804–4643

Administration of growth hormone (GH) to patients with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) has beneficial effects, but so far has been employed only empirically. We have, therefore, investigated the dose-dependent effect of GH on target tissue by studying biochemical markers of bone and collagen turnover in GHD. Then patients with GHD (nine males and one female aged 21–43 years, mean age 28 years) participated in the study. Growth hormone deficiency was defined as a peak serum GH response of less than 15 mU/l in two provocation tests. After a 4-week run-in period, the study population received increasing doses of GH at 4-week intervals (1,2 and 4U/m2). Blood samples were collected in the fasting state at 7.00 h on the last day of each period and assayed for serum levels of osteocalcin (S-BGP), bone alkaline phosphatase (B-ALP), C-terminal propeptide of type I collagen (S-PICP), carboxy-terminal pyridinoline cross-linked telopeptide of type I collagen (S-ICTP) and N-terminal propeptide of type III collagen (S-PIIINP). Following replacement therapy, serum insulin-like growth factor I and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 increased sequentially with time (p<0.001 and p<0.001, MANOVA) and the values were elevated significantly over baseline levels after treatment with 1 U/m2. Serum BGP values were below normal at the start of the study and increased gradually following GH treatment to levels in the low–normal range. Baseline values for serum bone alkaline phosphatase (B-ALP), PICP and PIIINP were within the normal range. The collagen parameters increased with GH replacement (p<0.001, MANOVA) to levels above normal, whereas B-ALP stayed within normal limits. Serum ICTP values were elevated above the normal range at baseline, indicating increased bone resorption in GHD. A linear increase in values was observed with GH treatment (p< 0.001, MANOVA). Serum ICTP did not correlate significantly with the bone formative parameters but was correlated positively to PIIINP. The sensitivity of S-ICTP as a bone resorptive marker is thus questioned. In conclusion, a dose-dependent increase in markers of growth hormone metabolism and in biochemical markers of both bone and non-bone collagen synthesis was seen following incremental doses of GH in GHD.

Jens Bollerslev, Department of Medical Endocrinology, National University Hospital, N-0027 Oslo, Norway

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Lars T. Jensen, Jens O.L. Jørgensen, Juha Risteli, Jens S. Christiansen and Ib Lorenzen


The effect of increasing doses of growth hormone on collagen synthesis in GH-treated GH-deficient patients was determined in a short-term study. The synthesis of type I and III collagen was estimated by measurements of the carboxyterminal propeptide of type I procollagen and the aminoterminal propeptide of type III procollagen. Type I collagen is mainly found in bone and type III collagen in loose connective tissue. We observed a GH dose dependency of both procollagen propeptides. Serum type I procollagen propeptide was significantly higher following GH doses of 4 and 6 IU/day for 14 days compared with 2 IU/day (normal replacement dose) (p=0.04). Withdrawal of GH therapy for 14 days resulted in wider variation, but not significantly different from the levels at 2, 4 and 6 IU/day. A dose dependency was found regarding type III procollagen propeptide, showing significantly higher serum concentrations at a GH dose of 4 IU/day compared with 2 IU/day (p=0.001), and of 6 IU/day compared with 4 IU/day (p=0.001). Withdrawal of GH therapy resulted in significantly lower type III procollagen propeptide concentrations compared with those at a GH dose of 4 and 6 IU/day (p=0.03). Serum type III procollagen propeptide increased twice as much as type I procollagen propeptide, by 47 vs 25%, at a GH dose of 6 IU/day compared with 2 IU/day. The differences between the effects on type I and type III collagen may reflect differences in secretion or turn-over rate of collagen in bone and loose connective tissue. Serum type I and type III procollagen propeptides may prove useful as monitors of GH therapy, especially regarding the GH dose levels in the individual patients.

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Jens OL Jørgensen, Leif Thuesen, Jørn Müller, Per Ovesen, Niels E Skakkebæk and Jens S Christiansen

Jørgensen JOL, Thuesen L, Müller J, Ovesen P, Skakkebæk NE, Christiansen JS. Three years of growth hormone treatment in growth hormone-deficient adults: near normalization of body composition and physical performance. Eur J Endocrinol 1994;130:224–8. ISSN 0804–4643

Growth hormone (GH) replacement therapy in several controlled short-term trials have shown unanimous beneficial effects on body composition and other features. To evaluate more long-term effects we report data from 3 years of uninterrupted GH therapy in 10 GH-deficient adults who had all completed a previous double-blind placebo-controlled study and who also had been studied after 16 months of open GH therapy. No further increase in linear height was observed. The initial increase in thigh muscle volume was maintained after 3 years of GH therapy. A slight increase in body weight and thigh fat volume was recorded. Exercise capacity and isometric muscle strength were increased significantly compared to the initial placebo period. This was associated with stabilized levels of resting heart rate and blood pressure. Glycosylated hemoglobin levels were normal and did not change during the study. A standard oral glucose tolerance test performed at the end of the study revealed no evidence of glucose intolerance. No side-effects were reported. Compared to an age- and sex-matched group of healthy untreated subjects, thigh muscle volume, exercise capacity and isometric muscle strength had become normalized from subnormal levels after 3 years of GH therapy. We conclude that long-term GH replacement therapy in GH-deficient adults is associated with preserved beneficial effects on body composition and physical performance, resulting in a near normalization of several previously abnormal features and adding new merits to this treatment modality.

Jens OL Jørgensen, Medical Department M (Endocrinology and Diabetes), Aarhus Kommunehospital, DK-8000C, Denmark

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Jens Otto L. Jørgensen, Werner F. Blum, Niels Møller, Michael B. Ranke and Jens S. Christiansen


Knowledge of the circadian patterns of serum IGF-I I and the large molecular weight IGF binding protein, IGFBP-3 might, apart from its physiological relevance, be of clinical interest, inasmuch as measurements of these parameters are being introduced into the evaluation of GH deficiency. We therefore evaluated the 24-h (08.00-08.00 h) patterns of serum IGF-II and IGFBP-3 in 8 GH-deficient patients who were studied during three periods when receiving 1. GH (2 IU) at 20.00 h; 2. GH (2 IU) at 08.00 h and 3. no GH. For comparison, 10 age- and sex-matched untreated healthy subjects were studied once under similar conditions. The serum IGF-II levels of the patients were relatively stable over the 24-h periods, yielding mean levels which were significantly lower during no GH: 553±78 (evening GH), 554±54 (morning GH), and 429±65 μg/l (no GH). The mean IGF-II level in the normal subjects was 635±29 μg/l, which was significantly higher than in either patient study. Similarly, stable 24-h levels of IGFBP-3 were recorded in all studies. The mean IGFBP-3 level of the patients was significantly lower when they received no GH, and the mean level in the healthy subjects was higher than in any of the patient studies: 1853±301 (no GH), 2755 ± 317 (evening GH), 2904±269 (morning GH), and 3856±186 μg/l (healthy subjects). However, minute but significant changes over time, characterised by slight decrements at night, were observed for both parameters in several of the studies. Nevertheless, since both IGF-II and IGFBP-3 display rather stable 24-h levels in the individual, it is concluded that measurements of these parameters in evaluation of growth retardation can be based on a single daytime sample.

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Jens OL Jorgensen, Werner F Blum, Nanette Horn, Niels Møller, Jens Møller, Michael B Ranke and Jens S Christiansen

To evaluate the short-term effects of growth hormone (GH), insulin and different levels of glycemia on insulin-like growth factors (IGF) I and II and IGF binding proteins (IGFBP) 1, 2 and 3, we studied six GH-deficient adolescents during a night and the following day in the postabsorptive (basal) state followed by sequential euglycemic (5 mmol/l) and hypoglycemic (3 mmol/l) glucose clamps concomitant with an intravenous infusion (starting at 24.00 h) of GH (35 μg/h) or saline. Current GH therapy was withdrawn 24 h prior to each study. Nocturnal levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 remained stable during both studies. Nocturnal serum IGFBP-1 increased and correlated inversely with insulin in both studies. Regression analysis revealed a significant inverse correlation between mean nocturnal IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-3 levels. During the daytime, serum IGF-I declined slowly during saline infusion, whereas serum IGF-II remained stable in both studies. Serum IGFBP-1 displayed a gradual significant decline during the basal state and the euglycemic and hypoglycemic clamps seemed to be unaffected by GH levels. By contrast, serum IGFBP-2 remained stable during the same period in both the GH and the saline study. Serum IGFBP-3 declined insignificantly during the daytime in the saline study. In conclusion: a strong inverse correlation between IGFBP-1 and insulin is confirmed; serum IGFBP-2 exhibits a constant circadian pattern, which seems independent of both ambient glucose and insulin levels and short-term GH deprivation but, on the other hand, shows a strong inverse correlation with IGFBP-3 levels; it is possible that IGFBP-2 levels are regulated by IGFBP-3 or IGFBP-3 binding site availability.

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Anders Juul, Søren A Pedersen, Steen Sørensen, Kjeld Winkler, Jens OL Jørgensen, Jens S Christiansen and Niels E Skakkebæk

Juul A, Pedersen SA, Sørensen S, Winkler K, Jørgensen JOL, Christiansen JS, Skakkebæk NE. Growth hormone (GH) treatment increases serum insulin-like growth factor binding protein- bone isoenzyme alkaline phosphatase and forearm bone mineral content in young adults with GH deficiency of childhood onset. Eur J Endocrinol 1994;131:41–9. ISSN 0804–4643

Recent studies have demonstrated that growth hormone (GH)-deficient adults have a markedly decreased bone mineral content compared to healthy adults. However, there are conflicting results regarding the effects of GH treatment on bone mineral content in GH-deficient adults. Therefore, we evaluated the effect of GH treatment on a marker of bone formation (bone alkaline phosphatase), hepatic excretory function and distal forearm bone mineral content in GH-deficient adults. Growth hormone was administered subcutaneously in 21 adults (13 males and 8 females) with GH deficiency of childhood onset for 4 months in a double-blind, placebo-controlled GH trial, while 13 of the patients then received further GH for an additional 14 months. Serum insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) increased significantly from 100 to 279 μg/l and IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) from 1930 to 3355 μg/l after 4 months of GH treatment (p < 0.0001). In addition, the molar ratio between IGF-I and IGFBP-3 increased significantly from 0.22 to 0.33 after GH treatment (p < 0.0001), Bone alkaline phosphatase increased significantly from 38.6 to 92.9 U/l during GH therapy in male patients (p < 0.0001), whereas liver-derived alkaline phosphatase was unaltered by GH. In the females, the increase in bone alkaline phosphatase did not reach statistical significance (19.1 vs 40.0 U/l, p = 0.06). The GH-induced increase in bone alkaline phosphatase correlated significantly with the increase in serum IGFBP-3 (r = 0.46, p = 0.04) but not with the increase in serum IGF-I (p = 0.16). Liver function as assessed by the galactose elimination capacity was within the normal range for healthy adults and did not change after GH treatment. Bone mineral content increased significantly between 7 and 14 months of GH treatment (mean increase in bone mineral content Z score = 0.24 sd/ 7 months), but remained low even after 14 months of GH treatment (Z score = –2.2 ± 0.24 (mean ± sem)). We conclude that GH administration increases serum levels of bone-derived alkaline phosphatase in male patients and has a potentially beneficial impact on bone mineral content in young adults with GH deficiency of childhood onset.

Anders Juul, Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

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Mehboob A Hussain, Ole Schmitz, Jens OL Jorgensen, Jens S Christiansen, Jorgen Weeke, Christoph Schmid and E Rudolf Froesch

Hussain MA, Schmitz O, Jorgensen JOL, Christiansen JS, Weeke J, Schmid C, Froesch ER. Insulin-like growth factor I alters peripheral thyroid hormone metabolism in humans. Eur J Endocrinol 1996;134:563–7. ISSN 0804–4643

Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is considered to mediate some of the growth-promoting and metabolic effects of growth hormone (GH). Growth hormone treatment of healthy and GH-deficient subjects is accompanied by increased conversion of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3) in peripheral tissues. Whether these effects are mediated by IGF-I is unknown. To assess the respective roles of these hormones on thyroid hormone metabolism we have treated two groups of subjects. The first group consisted of eight healthy subjects who were treated with IGF-I 10 μg·kg−1·h−1 sc for 5 days). The second group consisted of eight subjects with combined GH and thyrotropin (TSH) deficiency due to acquired pituitary disease. They were treated with IGF-I (10 μg·kg−1·h−1 sc for 7 days), GH (2 IU m−2 sc q.i.d.) or both hormones together. The IGF-I treatment in healthy subjects led to an increase in free T3 (FT3) and a reduction in TSH levels, whereas FT4 and total T4 (TT4) levels remained unchanged. In the second group—in which all subjects were substituted with oral lthyroxine—treatment with IGF-I led to an elevation of FT3 in the face of unchanged T4 levels. Growth hormone alone and GH plus IGF-I resulted in a more pronounced elevation in T3 level. The results suggest that IGF-I partially mediates the well-known effects of GH on peripheral conversion of T4 to T3. However, GH has more pronounced effects on thyroid hormones that apparently are not mediated by IGF-I.

ER Froesch, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Zürich, Rámistr, 100, 8091 Zürich, Switzerland