Changes in body composition and energy expenditure were assessed in 15 children after six weeks of human growth hormone (hGH) treatment. Body composition measurements were made by stable isotope labelled water (H2(18)O) dilution, bioelectrical impedance, and skinfold thickness techniques. Energy expenditure was assessed both by indirect ventilated hood calorimetry (resting energy expenditure) and the stable isotope doubly labelled water (2H2(18)O) technique (free living daily total energy expenditure). Mean increases in weight of 0.96 kg and fat free mass of 1.37 kg and a mean decrease in fat mass of 0.41 kg were observed. Significant increases both in resting energy expenditure and free living daily energy expenditure were detected. Absolute changes in fat mass and resting energy expenditure were correlated. The data suggest (i) that the increase in the fat free mass is the most significant early clinical measure of hGH response and (ii) that hGH increases the metabolic activity of the fat free mass. Monitoring such changes may be predictive of the efficacy of hGH in promoting growth.
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