Common carotid intima-media thickness in growth hormone (GH)-deficient adolescents: A prospective study after GH withdrawal and restarting GH replacement

Annamaria Colao, Carolina Di Somma, Francesca Rota, Salvatore Di Maio, Mariacarolina Salerno, Antonella Klain, Stefano Spiezia, Gaetano Lombardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We prospectively investigated the risk of early atherosclerosis, by classical cardiovascular risk factors and intima-media thickness (IMT) at the common carotid arteries, in 23 adolescents diagnosed as GH deficient (GHD) during childhood and in 23 healthy sex-, age-, and BMI-matched controls. Measurements were performed in all subjects before stopping GH replacement. Because the diagnosis of GHD had been confirmed in 15 of the 23 adolescents, the protocol changed according to the diagnosis as follows: measurements were repeated after 6 months of GH withdrawal and 6 months of GH reinstitution in the 15 with GHD, and after 6 and 12 months of GH withdrawal, measurements were also taken in the eight non-GHD subjects. Serum IGF-I levels were in the normal range for age in all patients before GH withdrawal. When compared with controls, before GH withdrawal, GHD adolescents had reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and increased total/high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, fibrinogen, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and glucose levels; non-GHD adolescents had increased glucose, insulin, and homeostasis model assessment score. IMT at the common carotid arteries was similar in GHD and controls (0.52 ± 0.03 vs. 0.55 ± 0.06 mm; P = 0.23) and was higher in non-GHD than in controls (0.62 ± 0.03 vs. 0.54 ± 0.06 mm; P = 0.01). In GHD adolescents, 6 months of GH treatment withdrawal and 6 months of GH treatment reinstitution modified IGF-I levels, lipid profile, and insulin resistance but not IMT or systolic and diastolic peak velocities at the common carotid arteries. In non-GHD subjects, 12 months of GH treatment withdrawal significantly decreased IGF-I levels, IMT (to 0.54 ± 0.06 mm; P <0.001 vs. baseline), systolic and diastolic peak velocities, and improved insulin resistance. In conclusion, the discontinuation of GH in confirmed GHD adolescents is not followed by significant alterations of the common carotid arteries, despite the profound negative alterations of the lipid profile. In adolescents who were not confirmed to have GHD, IMT was increased while on GH therapy and normalized when they were taken off of GH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2659-2665
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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