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      Effects of Growth Hormone on Cognitive Function

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          Whether growth hormone deficiency (GHD) and/or treatment in childhood and adolescence influences cognitive outcome in children with GHD or girls with Turner syndrome (TS) is controversial. Previous studies also suggest that quality of life (QoL) is reduced in adults with GHD, particularly in the areas of social isolation and fatigue. Baseline QoL scores were significantly lower in patients with GHD than in the general population of the same age, gender, and nationality. Unfortunately, few data are available describing QoL in children with GHD. TS is a genetic disorder characterized by short stature, gonadal dysgenesis, and a particular neurocognitive profile of normally developed language abilities (particularly verbal intelligence quotients) and impaired visual-spatial and/or visual-perceptual abilities. This study evaluated the effects of GH treatment on neurocognitive function in girls with TS who were enrolled in a long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the effects of GH treatment on final adult height. Treatment duration ranged from 1 to 7 years. The major result of this study was the absence of GH treatment effects on cognitive function in girls with TS. GHD and/or treatment in childhood and adulthood influences cognitive and/or QoL outcomes in some but not all studies. This study did not support a role for GH in influencing the characteristic nonverbal neurocognitive deficits associated with TS. However, evaluation of QoL should be a part of the routine clinical management of patients with GHD or TS.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor I and cognitive function in adults.

          This review focuses on the possible contribution of the growth hormone (GH)-insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) axis to cognitive function. Binding sites for GH and IGF-I are found in various areas of the brain. Their distribution suggests that GH and IGF-I contribute to the function of the hippocampus, a brain structure important for the maintenance of cognitive functions such as learning and memory. Evidence for cognitive deficits in GH-deficient individuals has been found in various studies, some of which have shown that these deficits can be reversed by GH substitution therapy. In addition to examining conditions of GH deficiency, this article reviews studies evaluating the correlation between the cognitive deficits associated with ageing and age-related decreases in GH or IGF-I secretion. Based on the available data, one might hypothesize that relative GH or IGF-I deficiency could contribute to the deterioration of cognitive functions observed in the elderly.
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            The effect of growth hormone substitution on cognitive performance in adult patients with hypopituitarism.

            Adult hypopituitary patients with growth hormone deficiency, though on adequate adrenal, thyroid or sex hormone replacement therapy, complain of attention and memory disabilities. During the past years several studies have evidenced that growth hormone (GH) may exert distinctive effects on the central nervous system and induce beneficial effects on psychological capabilities. The aim of our study was to determine whether a long-term replacement therapy of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) affects cognitive performance in adults with GH deficiency. A double-blind, randomized placebo controlled trial over 6 months, followed by an open period of 6 months of rhGH treatment. The assessment of cognitive performance comprised attention, verbal memory and non-verbal intelligence and was examined at baseline (0), at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. In addition, emotional well-being and energy were assessed using the Nottingham Health Profile self rating questionnaire. Eighteen hypopituitary patients, mean age 41.6 (range 21-63) years with adult onset GH deficiency were evaluated. Patients were on adequate and stable adrenal, thyroid, gonadal and desmopressin replacement therapy where necessary, but not substituted for GH deficiency. After 3 and 6 months of rhGH treatment in the closed label phase a significant improvement of attentional performance was observed compared to baseline in the rhGH group but not in the placebo group. After 6 months scores of attention were significantly different between rhGH and placebo treatment for the digit cancellation test and marginally different for the trail-making test. In contrast, long-term verbal memory and non-verbal intelligence did not improve compared to baseline during therapy and short-term memory improved both in the GH and the placebo group after 3 and 6 months. This was considered as a placebo or practice effect. In the open-label phase a further improvement of attention was found in the GH group and subsequent treatment with rhGH for 3 and 6 months in the placebo group also significantly improved attentional performance supporting the results of the rhGH group in the first 6 months of the double-blind phase. RhGH treatment appears to have a beneficial effect on attentional performance in adult hypopituitary patients with GH deficiency when treated for at least 3 months. Our study does not support a role for GH in influencing verbal memory or non-verbal intelligence.
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              Age-related reduction of human growth hormone-binding sites in the human brain.

              Previous studies have shown that alterations in various neuroendocrine functions occur with increasing age. We here report a study of growth hormone (GH)-binding sites in different areas of post-mortem human brains collected from individual males and females of different age. The results indicate that there exists a significant negative correlation between the density of GH-binding sites and increasing age. This phenomenon was observed in both sexes in brain areas such as choroid plexus, hippocampus, hypothalamus, pituitary and putamen but not in e.g. thalamus. In all tissues (except for choroid plexus), the GH binding was significantly higher in those originating from females than those from males. This discrepancy was found likely to be associated with the affinity of GH to lactogenic rather than to somatogenic sites as no pronounced sex difference in binding was observed in the presence of excessive amounts of human prolactin. Data also indicate that the putative GH receptors in the various brain regions differ with regard to binding constants and to the estimated molecular size of the hormone-binding units. The loss of GH receptors in brain of elderly people may have consequences in several physiological courses. The decrease in GH binding at hypothalamic and pituitary levels may be of importance for the mechanisms behind the release or secretion of the hormone.

                Author and article information

                Horm Res Paediatr
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                February 2006
                27 January 2006
                : 64
                : Suppl 3
                : 89-94
                Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pa., USA
                89323 Horm Res 2005;64:89–94
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Tables: 3, References: 46, Pages: 6


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