Objective: Previous evidence indicated that, in adults with organic hypopituitarism, GH deficiency (GHD) may mask the presence of other pituitary deficits, in particular central hypothyroidism and hypoadrenalism. Little and conflicting information is available about the relationship between GHD, rhGH therapy and gonadal function in males. The aim of the present study was to investigate the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG) in male adults with organic GHD and normal HPG axis. Patients: Twelve male adults (mean age 48 ± 7 years) with organic GHD and normal HPG axis. Measurements: Serum levels of testosterone, LH and FSH (basal and after GnRH stimulation test), SHBG and IGF-I and percentage body fat (BF%) were evaluated before and during rhGH (mean dose 0.24 ± 0.02 mg/day for 13 ± 1 months) treatment. Results: Serum IGF-I levels normalized during rhGH treatment and BF% significantly decreased. Serum testosterone levels significantly decreased (from 18.1 ± 1.7 to 14.2 ± 1.6 nmol/l, P = 0.01), with a parallel and significant decrease of serum SHBG (from 31.1 ± 3.6 to 24.3 ± 2.3 nmol/l, P <0.05). Thus, calculated free testosterone (cFT) did not change (from 0.39 ± 0.17 to 0.33 ± 0.14 nmol/l, P = ns). Finally, no difference was found in basal and GnRH stimulated gonadotrophins levels. Conclusions: In conclusion, the condition of GHD does not seem to mask central hypogonadism, in contrast to what is observed for central hypothyroidism and hypoadrenalism. However, the significant decrease in serum testosterone levels, strictly related to SHBG decrease, suggests that evaluation of the HPG axis during rhGH treatment cannot be based on the measurement of total testosterone levels, but should mainly rely on calculation of cFT and a careful clinical evaluation, in order to avoid unnecessary replacement therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas