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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1998 May;53(3):M183-7.

Side effects resulting from the use of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-I as combined therapy to frail elderly patients.

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Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.



The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between serum IGF-I concentration and the incidence of side effects of therapy with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) and recombinant human insulin-like growth factor-I (rhIGF-I).


Thirteen high-risk, undernourished elderly males were started on a 15-day course of rhGH and rhIGF-I by subcutaneous injection. The dose of rhGH was held constant at .0125 mg/kg/day, whereas the dose of rhIGF-I was increased in a stepwise fashion from 10 micrograms/kg to the targeted dose of 40 micrograms/kg twice a day.


Nine subjects completed the protocol and reached the full target dose of both hormones. Fluid retention, gynecomastia, and orthostatic hypotension were the most common complications. The hormone injections increased the serum concentration of IGF-I (from 72.7 +/- 40.9 to 483.7 +/- 251.4 eta g/ml, p = .001) and IGFBP-3 (from 1.82 +/- 0.66 to 2.72 +/- 1.18 mg/L, p = .012), and decreased serum albumin (from 34.3 +/- 5.5 to 31.4 +/- 4.6 g/L, p = .009). The magnitude of the initial increase in the serum IGF-I concentration was a powerful risk factor for severe orthostatic hypotension, diffuse myalgias, and drug-induced hepatitis. There was no association between the serum IGF-I concentration and fluid retention or gynecomastia.


Treatment of the undernourished frail elderly with the anabolic agents rhGH and rhIGF-I at the specified dosages may produce undesirable side effects including fluid retention, gynecomastia, and orthostatic hypotension. Although these agents hold therapeutic promise, they must be used with caution in this high-risk population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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