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Increased bone density after recombinant human growth hormone (GH) therapy in adults with isolated GH deficiency

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol 76, 1344-1348, Copyright © 1993 by Endocrine Society

DJ O'Halloran, A Tsatsoulis, RW Whitehouse, SJ Holmes, JE Adams and SM Shalet, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

The physiological role of GH in the adult skeleton is unknown. In this study, 12 adults (10 males and 2 females) with isolated GH deficiency were treated with GH as a single daily sc injection (0.125 IU/kg.week for the first 4 weeks and subsequently at 0.25 IU/kg.week) for 1 yr in a double blind, placebo-controlled manner. Bone mineral density of the spine (T12-L3) was measured by quantitative computed tomography, and bone mineral content (BMC) of the forearm by single photon absorptiometry at entry into the study and subsequently at 6 monthly intervals. All baseline bone mineral measurements were reduced compared with those in an age- and sex-matched control population. In the treatment cohort, quantitative computed tomography spinal trabecular bone mineral density increased by 7.8 g/L after 6 months of GH replacement (mean +/- SEM, 151.7 +/- 6.0 vs. 159.5 +/- 5.9 g/L; n = 11; P < 0.01), and this increment was maintained at 1 yr (160.7 +/- 6.3 g/L). Proximal forearm (cortical) BMC showed no change after 6 months of GH replacement, but there was a significant increase of 0.06 g/cm after 12 months of GH replacement (from 1.38 +/- 0.04 to 1.44 +/- 0.04 g/cm; n = 12; P < 0.05). Distal forearm (cortical and trabecular) BMC also increased significantly during the study period from 1.46 +/- 0.04 g/cm to 1.52 +/- 0.05 g/cm; n = 12, P < 0.05. No significant changes occurred in bone mineral measurements during 6 months of placebo therapy. Midthigh muscle and fat cross-sectional area increased and decreased, respectively, during the active treatment phase. These results demonstrate that GH plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of the adult skeleton.

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