02 December 2008
Growth hormone (GH) deficiency in adults, whether GH deficient since childhood or patients rendered GH deficient in adult life, is associated with psychosocial maladjustment, reduced muscle strength and reduced exercise capacity. Body composition is significantly altered with increased fat and decreased muscle volume as compared to healthy subjects. Kidney function is subnormal, and so is sweat secretion. Epidemiological data suggest premature mortality due to cardiovascular disease in hypopituitary patients. Short-term GH treatment trials have shown improved psychosocial performance, normalization of body composition, increased muscle strength, improved exercise capacity, increased cardiac performance and increase in bone mineral mass as well as in serum markers of bone turnover, and normalization of kidney function. Thus GH replacement therapy in GH-deficient adults exhibits potential long-term beneficial effects. A number of important questions has to be addressed before long-term GH replacement therapy in GH-deficient adults can be considered on a routine basis.