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Growth Horm IGF Res. 2011 Apr;21(2):81-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Mar 2.

Early-onset growth hormone deficiency results in diastolic dysfunction in adult-life and is prevented by growth hormone supplementation.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1009, USA.



The primary goal of growth hormone (GH) replacement is to promote linear growth in children with growth hormone deficiency (GHD). GH and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) are also known to have roles in cardiac development and as modulators of myocardial structure and function in the adult heart. However, little is known about cardiac diastolic function in young adults with childhood onset GH deficiency in which GH treatment was discontinued following puberty. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of long standing GHD and peri-pubertal or continuous GH replacement therapy on diastolic function in the adult dwarf rat.


The dwarf rat, which possesses a mutation in a transcription factor necessary for development of the somatotroph, does not exhibit the normal peri-pubertal rise in GH around day 28 and was used to model childhood or early-onset GHD (EOGHD). In another group of male dwarfs, GH replacement therapy was initiated at 4 weeks of age when GH pulsatility normally begins. Ten weeks after initiation of injections, GH-treated dwarf rats were divided into 2 groups; continued treatment with GH for 12 weeks (GH-replete) or treatment with saline for 12 weeks. This latter group models GH supplementation during adolescence with GHD beginning in adulthood (adult-onset GHD; AOGHD). Saline-treated heterozygous (HZ) rats were used as age-matched controls. At 26 weeks of age, cardiac function was assessed using invasive or noninvasive (conventional and tissue Doppler) indices of myocardial contractility and lusitropy.


Systolic function, as determined by echocardiography, was similar among groups. Compared with HZ rats and GH-replete dwarfs, the EOGHD group exhibited significant reductions in myocardial relaxation and increases in left ventricular filling pressure, indicative of moderate diastolic dysfunction. This was further associated with a decrease in the cardiac content of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) ATPase (SERCA2), one of the important cardiac calcium regulatory proteins. Dwarfs supplemented with GH during the peri-adolescence stage, but not beyond (AOGHD), exhibited a subtle prolongation in the deceleration time to early filling. In contrast, continual GH replacement preserved diastolic function such that the cardiac phenotype of the GH-replete dwarfs resembled that of their age-matched HZ counterpart.


Our data indicate that GHD during adolescence leads to overt diastolic dysfunction in early adulthood and this is prevented by continual GH replacement therapy. Since discontinuation of GH replacement following adolescence only mitigated the lusitropic deficits that were observed in untreated dwarfs, GH treatment into adulthood could be beneficial.

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