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Growth Horm IGF Res. 2015 Jun;25(3):108-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2015.03.001. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

The robustness of diagnostic tests for GH deficiency in adults.

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Department of Endocrinology, Odense University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, Kløvervænget 6, 5000 Odense C, Denmark. Electronic address:


Since the 1970s, GH treatment has been an important tool in paediatric endocrinology for the management of growth retardation. It is now accepted that adults with severe GH deficiency (GHD) demonstrate impaired physical and psychological well-being and may benefit from replacement therapy with recombinant human GH. There is, however, an ongoing debate on how to diagnose GHD, especially in adults. A GH response below the cut-off limit of a GH-stimulation test is required in most cases for establishing GHD in adults. No 'gold standard' GH-stimulation test exists, but some GH stimulation tests may be more robust to variations in patient characteristics such as age and gender, as well as to pre-test conditions like heat exposure due to a hot bath or bicycling. However, body mass index (BMI) is negatively associated with GH-responses to all available GH-stimulation tests and glucocorticoid treatment, including conventional substitution therapy, influences the GH-responses. Recently, the role of IGF-I measurements in the clinical decision making has been discussed. The aim of this review is to discuss the available GH-stimulation tests. In this author's opinion, tests which include growth-hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) tend to be more potent and robust, especially the GHRH+arginine test which has been proven to be of clinical use. In contrast, the insulin tolerance test (ITT) and the glucagon test appear to have too many drawbacks.


GH deficiency; GH-stimulation test; GHRH; ITT

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