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OBJECTIVE: To study the effects of long-term (> 4 years) growth hormone (GH) therapy on insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance and lipid profile in non-GH deficient adolescents at completion of their growth. SUBJECTS: Thirty non-GH deficient (15 'idiopathic' short stature, 8 intrauterine growth retardation, 7 partial GH deficiency in childhood but normal on retesting) were recruited, median (range) age 16.9 years (15-20.3) prior to ceasing their GH therapy. Their median (range) duration of GH treatment was 7.9 years (4-11). Insulin sensitivity was also recorded in 10 normal controls with a median (range) age of 20.5 years (18.4-22.3). METHODS: Insulin sensitivity was assessed by a short insulin tolerance test in 18 patients on GH therapy and controls. It was repeated in 14 patients six months after stopping their GH therapy. A 3-h standard oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was performed in 19 patients on GH therapy, and repeated after 6 months off GH in 10 patients. Fasting lipids were also measured. RESULTS: Insulin sensitivity index was significantly lower in the patients on GH therapy than in the controls, (median (range)) 3.7%/min (1.2-5.3) and 5.3%/min (3.8-6.2), respectively. Six months after termination of GH therapy, insulin sensitivity increased significantly from 3.6%/min (1.2-5) to 4. 8%/min (2.8-5.6). Fasting plasma insulin decreased significantly off GH therapy from 10.1 to 3.6 mU/l. The area under the insulin curve during the OGTT was also significantly higher on GH therapy. Apart from one patient with impaired glucose tolerance on GH treatment, plasma glucose concentrations remained within the normal range. No lipid abnormalities were recorded. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that long-term GH therapy may cause insulin resistance in non GH deficient adolescents, but usually with neither impaired glucose tolerance nor hyperlipidaemia.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Endocrinol (Oxf)

Publication Date





347 - 353


Adolescent, Adult, Blood Glucose, Case-Control Studies, Female, Fourier Analysis, Glucose Tolerance Test, Growth Disorders, Growth Hormone, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Humans, Insulin, Insulin Resistance, Lipids, Male, Statistics, Nonparametric