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      Insulin Sensitivity in Adults with Growth Hormone Deficiency and Effect of Growth Hormone Treatment

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          Adult growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is a multifactorial disorder in which pituitary dysfunction associated with pituitary adenomas or their treatment plays a major role. The introduction of recombinant growth hormone (GH) for the treatment of GHD has opened up new treatment avenues but has also raised concerns about possible untoward long-term metabolic effects of GH, such as the potential effect of GH on insulin sensitivity and a deterioration in glucose tolerance. Research has shown that GH induces insulin resistance by the stimulation of lipolysis and a concomitant switch from oxidation of glucose to oxidation of lipids, during both acute and chronic treatment. However, although this is a consistent effect of GH therapy, it does not mean per se that it leads to abnormal glucose tolerance and diabetes mellitus. This article discusses this and other potential long-term metabolic effects of GH, and raises a number of questions to be addressed by future research.

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          Most cited references 13

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          The effects of treatment with recombinant human growth hormone on body composition and metabolism in adults with growth hormone deficiency.

          In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we studied the effects of six months of growth hormone replacement in 24 adults with growth hormone deficiency. Most of the patients had acquired growth hormone deficiency during adulthood as a consequence of treatment for pituitary tumors, and all were receiving appropriate thyroid, adrenal, and gonadal hormone replacement. The daily dose of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) was 0.07 U per kilogram of body weight, given subcutaneously at bedtime. The mean (+/- SE) plasma concentration of insulin-like growth factor I increased from 0.41 +/- 0.05 to 1.53 +/- 0.16 U per liter during rhGH treatment. Treatment with rhGH had no effect on body weight. The mean lean body mass, however, increased by 5.5 +/- 1.1 kg (P less than 0.0001), and the fat mass decreased by 5.7 +/- 0.9 kg (P less than 0.0001) in the group treated with growth hormone; neither changed significantly in the placebo group. The basal metabolic rate, measured at base line and after one and six months of rhGH administration, increased significantly; the respective values were 32.4 +/- 1.4, 37.2 +/- 2.2, and 34.4 +/- 1.6 kcal per kilogram of lean body mass per day (P less than 0.001 for both comparisons). Fasting plasma cholesterol levels were lower (P less than 0.05) in the rhGH-treated group than in the placebo group, whereas plasma triglyceride values were similar in the two groups throughout the study. We conclude that growth hormone has a role in the regulation of body composition in adults, probably through its anabolic and lipolytic actions.
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            Alterations in postprandial hepatic glycogen metabolism in type 2 diabetes.

            Decreased skeletal muscle glucose disposal and increased endogenous glucose production (EGP) contribute to postprandial hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes, but the contribution of hepatic glycogen metabolism remains uncertain. Hepatic glycogen metabolism and EGP were monitored in type 2 diabetic patients and nondiabetic volunteer control subjects (CON) after mixed meal ingestion and during hyperglycemic-hyperinsulinemic-somatostatin clamps applying 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMRS) and variable infusion dual-tracer technique. Hepatocellular lipid (HCL) content was quantified by 1H NMRS. Before dinner, hepatic glycogen was lower in type 2 diabetic patients (227 +/- 6 vs. CON: 275 +/- 10 mmol/l liver, P < 0.001). After meal ingestion, net synthetic rates were 0.76 +/- 0.16 (type 2 diabetic patients) and 1.36 +/- 0.15 mg x kg(-1) x min(-1) (CON, P < 0.02), resulting in peak concentrations of 283 +/- 15 and 360 +/- 11 mmol/l liver. Postprandial rates of EGP were approximately 0.3 mg x kg(-1) x min(-1) (30-170 min; P < 0.05 vs. CON) higher in type 2 diabetic patients. Under clamp conditions, type 2 diabetic patients featured approximately 54% lower (P < 0.03) net hepatic glycogen synthesis and approximately 0.5 mg x kg(-1) x min(-1) higher (P < 0.02) EGP. Hepatic glucose storage negatively correlated with HCL content (R = -0.602, P < 0.05). Type 2 diabetic patients exhibit 1) reduction of postprandial hepatic glycogen synthesis, 2) temporarily impaired suppression of EGP, and 3) no normalization of these defects by controlled hyperglycemic hyperinsulinemia. Thus, impaired insulin sensitivity and/or chronic glucolipotoxicity in addition to the effects of an altered insulin-to-glucagon ratio or increased free fatty acids accounts for defective hepatic glycogen metabolism in type 2 diabetic patients.
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              Growth hormone replacement therapy induces insulin resistance by activating the glucose-fatty acid cycle.

              The effects of GH replacement therapy on energy metabolism are still uncertain, and long-term benefits of increased muscle mass are thought to outweigh short-term negative metabolic effects. This study was designed to address this issue by examining both short-term (1 wk) and long-term (6 months) effects of a low-dose (9.6 micro g/kg body weight.d) GH replacement therapy or placebo on whole-body glucose and lipid metabolism (oral glucose tolerance test and euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp combined with indirect calorimetry and infusion of 3-[(3)H]glucose) and on muscle composition and muscle enzymes/metabolites, as determined from biopsies obtained at the end of the clamp in 19 GH-deficient adult subjects. GH therapy resulted in impaired insulin-stimulated glucose uptake at 1 wk (-52%; P = 0.008) and 6 months (-39%; P = 0.008), which correlated with deterioration of glucose tolerance (r = -0.481; P = 0.003). The decrease in glucose uptake was associated with an increase in lipid oxidation at 1 wk (60%; P = 0.008) and 6 months (60%; P = 0.008) and a concomitant decrease in glucose oxidation. The deterioration of glucose metabolism during GH therapy also correlated with the enhanced rate of lipid oxidation (r = -0.508; P = 0.0002). In addition, there was a shift toward more glycolytic type II fibers during GH therapy. In conclusion, replacement therapy with a low-dose GH in GH-deficient adult subjects is associated with a sustained deterioration of glucose metabolism as a consequence of the lipolytic effect of GH, resulting in enhanced oxidation of lipid substrates. Also, a shift toward more insulin-resistant type II X fibers is seen in muscle. Glucose metabolism should be carefully monitored during long-term GH replacement therapy.

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                February 2006
                27 January 2006
                : 64
                : Suppl 3
                : 45-50
                Department of Endocrinology, Malmö University Hospital, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden
                89317 Horm Res 2005;64:45–50
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, References: 19, Pages: 6
                Insulin Sensitivity: Clinical Impact


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