Growth hormone response to growth hormone-releasing hormone varies with the hypothalamic-pituitary abnormalities

Mohamad Maghnie, Antonia Moretta, Anice Valtorta, Daniela Larizza, Mariam Sayegh, Anna Maria Greco, Enio Castoldi, Francesca Severi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We determined growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) levels after a 3 h infusion of escalating doses of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH(1-29)) followed by a bolus injection in hypopituitary patients with marked differences in pituitary features at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in order to evaluate further the contribution of MRI in the definition of pituitary GH reserve in GH-deficient patients. Twenty-nine patients (mean age 14.5 ± 4.0 years) were studied, Group I comprised 13 patients: seven with isolated GH deficiency (IGHD) (group Ia) and six with multiple pituitary hormone deficiency (MPHD) (group Ib) who had anterior pituitary hypoplasia, unidentified pituitary stalk and ectopic posterior pituitary at MRI. Group II consisted of eight patients with IGHD and small anterior pituitary/empty sella, while in group m eight had IGHD and normal morphology of the pituitary gland, Growth hormone and IGF-I levels were measured during saline infusion at 08.30-09.00 h, as well as after infusion of GHRH (1-29) at escalating doses for 3 h: 0.2 μg/kg at 09.00-10.00 h, 0.4 μg/kg at 10.00-11.00 h, 0.6 μg/kg at 11.00-12.00 h and an intravenous bolus of 2 μg/ kg at 12.00 h. In the group I patients, the peak GH response to GHRH(1-29) was delayed (135-180 min) and extremely low (median 2mU/l). In group II it was delayed(135-180 min), high (median 34.8 mU/l) and persistent (median 37.4 mU/l at 185-210 min). In group III the peak response was high (median 30.8 mU/l) and relatively early (75-120 min) but it declined rapidly (median 14.4 mU/l at 185-210 min). In one group I patient, GH response increased to 34.6 mU/l. The mean basal value of IGF-I levels was significantly lower in group I (0.23 ± 0.05 U/ml) than in groups II (0.39 ± 0.13U/ ml, p <0.01) and m (1.54 ± 0.46 U/ml, p <0.001) and did not vary significantly during the GHRH(1-29) infusion, The present study demonstrates that the impaired GH response to 3 h of continuous infusion of escalating doses of GHRH(1-29) was strikingly indicative for pituitary stalk abnormality, strengthening the case for use of GHRH in the differential diagnosis of GH deficiency, The low GH response, more severe in MPHD patients, might be dependent on the residual somatotrope cells, while the better response (34.6 mU/l) in the group Ia patients might suggest that prolonged GHRH infusion could help in evaluating the amount of residual GH pituitary tissue. Pituitary GH reserve, given the GH response to GHRH infusion in GH-deficient patients with small anterior pituitary/empty sella, seems to be maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-204
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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