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Acta Clin Belg. 2010 Jan-Feb;65(1):13-22.

Treatment of adult growth hormone deficiency: who, why and how? A review.

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  • 1Departament of Endocrinology, UCL St-Luc University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium.


Adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD) is nowadays recognized as a distinct clinical entity and replacement therapy has become a standard practice. Reflecting on the accumulated evidence, questions nevertheless arise. Should all AGHD patients be treated? What dose of GH should be given and for how long? What are the real long-term benefits, in particular regarding life expectancy? if the diagnosis of severe GHD is firmly established and if there is no contra-indication (such as an active cancer or uncontrolled diabetes), it is worthwile initiating GH replacement therapy. Treatment can indeed correct the abnormal body composition, improve various adverse cardiovascular parameters and risk factors, increase muscle strength and bone mineral density and, although to a variable degree, improve the patient's quality of life and psychological well-being. Treatment should be started with very low doses to avoid side-effects related to fluid retention and should then be gradually titrated against IGF-I values, clinical response and individual tolerance.There is unfortunately no confirmed predictive factor for the overall therapeutic response in a given individual. Thus, the decision to whether or not pursue the therapy will depend on the ratio of perceived and expected benefits over cost and risks of treatment, as well as on the persistent motivation of the patient.

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