Purpose: While a good safety for recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) therapy at replacement doses is recognized, a possible link between high concentration of the GH-IGF-I axis hormones and side negative effect has been reported. The aim of this pilot study was to assess whether a short-term exposure to supra-physiological doses of rhGH may affect DNA integrity in human lymphocytes (PBL). Methods: Eighteen healthy Caucasian female (24.2 ± 3.5 years) were randomly included in a Control (n = 9) and rhGH administration group (n = 9, 3-week treatment). DNA damage (comet assay), chromosomal breaks, and mitotic index in phytohemagglutinin-stimulated PBL were evaluated before (PRE), immediately (POST), and 30 days (POST30) after the last rhGH administration (0.029 mg kg− 1 BW; 6 days/week), together with serum IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 concentrations. Results: rhGH administration increased IGF-I, without evidence of persisting IGF-I and IGFBP-3 changes 30 days after withdrawal. Total DNA breakage (% DNA in tails) was not significantly different in subjects treated with rhGH in comparison with controls, although the rhGH-treated subjects showed an higher percentage of heavily damaged nuclei immediately after the treatment (POST30 vs. PRE: p = 0.003), with a lower mitogenic potential of lymphocytes, detectable up to the POST30 (PRE vs. POST: p = 0.02; PRE vs. POST30: p = 0.007). Conclusions: This pilot study showed that 3 weeks of short-term supra-physiological rhGH administration in healthy women induce a transient DNA damage and mitogenic impairment in PBL. The analysis of DNA damage should be explored as useful tool in monitoring the mid to long-term effects of high rhGH treatment or abuse.
- Chromosomal aberrations
- Comet assay
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism