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Crit Care Med. 1996 Mar;24(3):403-13.

Lack of effects of recombinant growth hormone on muscle function in patients requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation: a prospective, randomized, controlled study.

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Division of Nutrition, Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland.



To evaluate the benefit of recombinant human growth hormone administration on muscle strength and duration of weaning in critically ill patients undergoing prolonged mechanical ventilation.


Prospective, randomized, controlled, single-blind study.


Intensive care unit.


Twenty patients requiring > or = 7 days of mechanical ventilation for acute respiratory failure.


Random assignment to receive either 0.43 IU (approximately 0.14 mg) recombinant growth hormone/kg body weight/day (treated group), or saline (nontreated group) for 12 days.


Nutritional support was guided by indirect calorimetry. Cumulative nitrogen balance was positive throughout the study period in the treated group 17.3 (44.9 +/- 17.3[SEM] g/12 days) vs. the nontreated group (-65.8 +/- 11.8 g/12 days) (p<.0001). Despite similar initial plasma concentrations, recombinant growth hormone supplementation resulted in marked increases in growth hormone, insulin like growth factor-1, and insulin concentrations (p<.05, .02, and .0001, respectively, vs. nontreated group). Body impedance determined net fat-free mass increased in the treated group (0.8 +/- 0.6 kg) vs. the nontreated group (-1.1 +/- O.5 kg) (p<.03). Initial peripheral muscle function, assessed by computer-controlled electrical stimulation of the adductor pollicis, was similarly lower in treated and nontreated groups than sex and age-matched normal controls, and decreased further during the study period. Arterial blood gases, cumulative total mechanical ventilation time, and number of hrs/day of mechanical ventilation during weaning were similar in both patient groups. Only three of the ten patients in each group were weaned from mechanical ventilation by day 12.


Daily administration of recombinant growth hormone in mechanically ventilated patients with acute respiratory failure promotes a marked nitrogen retention. However, this reaction is accompanied neither by an improvement in muscle strength nor by a shorter duration of ventilatory supports.

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