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Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Marnick Rijndorp, Nienke R Biermasz, Olaf M Dekkers, and Alberto M Pereira


Recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) replacement is advocated in adult growth hormone-deficient (GHD) patients to increase bone mass and improve lipid profile, body composition, and quality of life. The long-term effects of discontinuation of rhGh replacement are unknown.


This cohort study and systematic review aim to evaluate the long-term metabolic effects of discontinuation of rhGh replacement in adult GHD patients, with a subgroup analyses according to age (< or > 60 years). Data on anthropometry, lipids, glucose, and bone mass density (BMD) were assessed for 3 years after discontinuation.


Cohort study included 64 patients who had discontinued rhGh replacement for >12 months. Fat percentage increased from 31.5±9.5% to 33.8±9.0% (mean difference 2.3, P=0.003). BMI decreased only in subjects <60 years (P=0.014). Glucose, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol levels did not change; however, the percentage of patients on statins increased slightly from 39% to 44%. HDL-C concentration increased only in patients <60 years (mean difference 0.2, P=0.043). Lumbar spine BMD did not change; however, femoral neck BMD and bone turnover markers decreased in subjects <60 years (P=0.001). Systematic review included eight studies (n=166 patients) with a follow-up duration of 6–18 months. Of the eight studies, three qualified as low risk of bias and five as having an intermediate risk of bias. None of the studies reported handling of statins, bisphosphonates, and glucose-lowering medication or excluded patients using these medications.


In this study, discontinuation of rhGh replacement resulted in metabolic changes only in patients <60 years after 3 years. Further research warrants to determine the optimal strategies for (dis)continuation of rhGh replacement in adult patients with GHD.

Free access

Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Kim M J A Claessen, Ferdinand Roelfsema, Alberto M Pereira, and Nienke R Biermasz


The beneficial effects of recombinant human GH (rhGH) therapy in GH deficient (GHD) adults are well-established in the short term. However, data documenting the effects during prolonged follow-up are relatively scarce.


To evaluate the reported effects of rhGH replacement (≥5 years) in GHD adults on biochemical and anthropometric parameters, quality of life (QoL), bone metabolism, muscle strength, serious adverse events and mortality.


We conducted a systematic literature search. Quality assessment of retrieved papers was performed using a quality assessment based on the modified STROBE statement.


We included 23 prospective studies with a rhGH treatment duration ranging from 5 to 15 years. Overall, beneficial effects were reported on QoL, body composition, lipid profile, carotid intima media thickness and bone mineral density. In contrast, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, glucose levels, BMI and muscle strength were not, or negatively, influenced. Most of the studies were uncontrolled, lacked the presence of a control group (of non-treated GHD patients), and reported no data on lipid-lowering and anti-diabetic medication. Overall mortality was not increased.


rhGH treatment in adult GHD patients is well-tolerated and positively affects QoL in the long term. However, the metabolic and cardiovascular effects during long-term treatment are variable. The low numbers of long-term studies and studied patients and lack of control data hamper definite statements on the efficacy of prolonged treatment. Therefore continuous monitoring of the effects of rhGH replacement to enable an adequate risk-benefit analysis that may justify prolonged, potentially life-long, treatment is advisable.

Open access

Neil J Gittoes, Sherwin Criseno, Natasha M Appelman-Dijkstra, Jens Bollerslev, Ernesto Canalis, Lars Rejnmark, and Zaki Hassan-Smith

Endocrinologists have had to make rapid changes to services so that resources can be focused on the COVID-19 response to help prevent spread of the virus. Herein we provide pragmatic advice on the management of commonly encountered calcium metabolic problems and osteoporosis. Non-urgent elective appointments should be postponed, and remote consultations and digital health solutions promoted. Patients should be empowered to self-manage their conditions safely. Patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers should be directed to assured national or international online resources and specific patient groups. For patients in acute hospital settings, existing emergency guidance on the management of hyper- and hypo-calcaemia should be followed. An approach to osteoporosis management is outlined. IV zoledronic acid infusions can be delayed for 6–9 months during the pandemic. Patients established on denosumab, teriparatide and abaloparatide should continue planned therapy. In the event of supply issues with teriparatide or abaloparatide, pausing this treatment in the short term is likely to be relatively harmless, whereas delaying denosumab may cause an immediate increased risk of fracture. The challenge of this pandemic will act as a catalyst to innovate within our management of metabolic bone and mineral disorders to ensure best use of resources and resilience of healthcare systems in its aftermath.