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Adult growth hormone deficiency 

Adult growth hormone deficiency
Chapter:
Adult growth hormone deficiency
Author(s):

Aurora Aragon-Alonso

, Mark Sherlock

, and Andrew A. Toogood

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199235292.003.2086
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date: 17 November 2019

It has been known for many years that growth hormone is essential for normal linear growth, but over the past few years, with the advent of recombinant human growth hormone therapy, the importance of growth hormone during adult life has been described in detail. The growth hormone peptide was first isolated from bovine pituitaries in the 1940s (1), but was found to be species specific and inactive in humans. In 1956, growth hormone was extracted from human cadaveric pituitary tissue (2) and a year later was administered to a 13-year-old boy with hypopituitarism, resulting in an increased growth velocity (3). The first report suggesting growth hormone could have beneficial actions in adulthood was published in 1962 in which a 35-year-old woman with hypopituitarism reported increased vigour, ambition, and wellbeing after 2 months treatment with cadaveric growth hormone (4). However, the limited supply of pituitary-derived growth hormone confined its use to the treatment of children with severe growth failure caused by proven growth hormone deficiency (GHD). In 1985, the association of cadaveric growth hormone treatment with Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease led to its withdrawal from use worldwide (5). Since then, all growth hormone in clinical use has been produced using recombinant DNA technology.

The first placebo-controlled trials of growth hormone replacement therapy in adults with GHD were published in 1989 (6, 7). These and subsequent studies have led to the recognition of adult GHD as a specific clinical syndrome and the impact of GHD and replacement therapy in adults with GHD has been studied in detail.

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