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Metabolic effects of discontinuing growth hormone treatment


AIMS To evaluate the effects of discontinuing growth hormone (GH) treatment on energy expenditure and body composition, which might help predict those most likely to benefit from early reintroduction of GH treatment in young adult life.

METHODS Body composition was calculated from skinfold thicknesses and dual energyx ray absorptometry (DXA). Resting metabolic rate (RMR) and whole body bone mineral content (BMC) were also measured. Measurements were made before stopping treatment, at discontinuation of GH treatment, and two weeks, six months, and one year later in 11 adolescents with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) and five adolescents without GHD who were treated with GH. Measurements were compared with 10 healthy controls, in whom measurements were repeated one year later.

RESULTS During the nine months before discontinuation of GH there were no changes in body composition, RMR, or BMC of patients with GHD, nor differences when compared with controls. RMR was reduced by 11.3 kJ/kg fat free mass two weeks after stopping GH in GHD patients and remained suppressed thereafter compared with controls. Percentage body fat increased by 4.3%/year in patients with GHD after discontinuing GH, whereas no changes were noted in control or non-GHD patients at one year. The patients experiencing the greatest reductions in RMR/kg fat free mass at six months showed the largest increases in body fat at one year. No change in BMC was noted in patients one year after stopping treatment.

CONCLUSION Important metabolic changes occur early after discontinuing GH treatment. In patients whose growth is complete, these changes might be used to predict those most likely to benefit from continuation of GH treatment into adult life.

  • growth hormone deficiency
  • body composition
  • resting metabolic rate
  • bone mineralisation

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