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Marie Degerblad, Nabil Elgindy, Kerstin Hall, Hans-Erik Sjöberg and Marja Thorén

Six patients (21–50 years) with growth hormone deficiency and panhypopituitarism were given recombinant growth hormone, somatropin, 0.04–0.1 U·kg·body wt−1·day−1, for 12 months. All patients reported improved well-being with increased working capacity. Bone mineral density, as measured by single photon absorptiometry at two sites on the forearm, showed increased values in 5/6 patients after 12 months when measured at the most distal site (predominantly trabecular bone) and in 4/6 at the more proximal site (predominantly cortical bone). Five patients continued therapy for an additional year and after 18 months a significant increase in bone mineral density was seen at both the distal and proximal sites. The mean annual increase in bone mineral density was 12.0±0.6 (sem)% and 3.8±1.3% at the distal and proximal sites, respectively. In a growth hormone deficient control group without growth hormone therapy, the corresponding values were −2.4±0.6% and −1.9±0.4%, respectively. Lean body mass, estimated anthropometrically, increased significantly after 12 months and total body potassium, measured by whole body counting technique, increased in 4/6 patients. During growth hormone treatment, the IGF-1 values were above the mean values for age and 50% of the values were above the mean + 2 SD. B-glucose, P-insulin, serum IGF-2, procollagen-III peptide and phosphate increased and urea, creatinine and IGF-binding protein-1 decreased during treatment. The beneficial effects of growth hormone substitution, especially on bone mineral density, indicate that growth hormone substitution should be considered in all patients with hypopituitarism and growth hormone deficiency, irrespective of age.

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Marie Degerblad, Ove Almkvist, Roland Grunditz, Kerstin Hall, Lennart Kaijser, Evert Knutsson, Hans Ringertz and Marja Thorén

Abstract.

In a double-blind cross-over study with recombinant methionyl growth hormone (GH) and placebo during 12 weeks, the effect of GH substitution therapy (0.5-0.6 IU · kg−1 · week−1) on physical performance, muscle strength, bone mineral density, and mood and cognitive functions was investigated in 6 GH-deficient adults. During GH substitution serum concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I and procollagen-III peptide increased in all 6 patients, whereas concentrations of serum urea decreased. Five of the patients identified the GH period and reported improved well-being with increased mental alertness and vitality and improved physical capacity and muscle strength. There was, however, no change of the isokinetic muscle strength during GH substitution therapy, and the working capacity on the bicycle ergometer was just slightly improved in some patients. The bone mineral density was low and unchanged in all patients. Mood and cognitive functions did not change during GH therapy. A reversible fluid retention was observed in one patient during the GH period. In conclusion, short-term GH substitution therapy to GH-deficient adults induced a subjective improvement of general wellbeing. Longer treatment periods will be necessary to establish the effect on physical capacity, muscle strength, bone mineral density, and mood and cognitive functions.

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Marie Degerblad, Bengt-Åke Bengtsson, Margareta Bramnert, Olof Johnell, Per Manhem, Thord Rosén and Marja Thorén

Degerblad M, Bengtsson B-Å, Bramnert M, Johnell O, Manhem P, Rosén T, Thorén M. Reduced bone mineral density in adults with growth hormone (GH) deficiency: increased bone turnover during 12 months of GH substitution therapy. Eur J Endocrinol 1995;133:180–8. ISSN 0804–4643

To evaluate the consequences of growth hormone (GH) deficiency on bone mineral density and to evaluate the effects of GH substitution therapy, 68 adults (25 females and 43 males) aged 22–61 (mean 44.2 ± 1.2) years with GH deficiency (GHD) were studied. Fifty-eight patients had panhypopituitarism, three had isolated GHD and in seven patients at least one additional pituitary function was affected. Twenty-one patients had childhood onset GHD. The patients were randomized to receive either GH in daily injections (0.125 IU · kg−1 · week−1 for the first 4 weeks and subsequently 0.25 IU · kg−1 · week−1) or placebo for 6 months. The trial continued as an open study with GH treatment for 6 or 12 months, with data presented as compiled data of 12 months of GH treatment in 64 patients. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and bone turnover was assessed by serum markers of bone metabolism (osteocalcin, procollagen I peptide, crosslinked telopeptide of type I collagen and alkaline phosphatase activity). In women with adult onset GHD (N = 19) and in men with childhood onset GHD (N = 15), total body, spine and hip BMD was significantly reduced at baseline compared to Swedish age- and sex-matched control material. In men with adult onset of GHD (N = 28), BMD did not differ from male controls. During the placebocontrolled period, GH induced decreased total body and spine BMD, probably due to an expansion of the remodelling space, whereas all serum markers of bone turnover increased. Compiled GH data showed similar results after 6 months of treatment. After 12 months of GH treatment, BMD did not differ from basal values except for total body BMD, which was lower, whereas the serum markers of bone metabolism were still increased as compared to basal values. Two-thirds of the patients experienced fluid retention with peripheral oedema and arthralgias on the higher GH dosage. One obese patient developed non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and was withdrawn from the study. These results demonstrate that GHD has negative effects on BMD and that GH substitution induces increased bone turnover. Continued long-term observations will reveal if there is a positive effect of GH substitution on bone mass in the adult GHD patient.

Marie Degerblad, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Karolinska Hospital, S-17176 Stockholm, Sweden