Objective: Bone mineral density and growth hormone (GH) secretion rate both decline during normal human ageing. We evaluated the effects of recombinant human GH on markers of body composition and bone turnover in an open study in 8 elderly osteoporotic women aged 68-75 years (mean age 71 years).
Design: Subjects were treated with GH as a single daily subcutaneous injection (0.125 IU/kg/week for the first 4 weeks and subsequently 0.25 IU/kg/week) for 48 weeks.
Results: GH treatment caused a rapid (within 2 weeks) increase in serum levels of IGF-I and IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) which was sustained throughout the study. Markers of bone formation and resorption were both gradually increased up to 24 weeks of GH treatment. The bone formation markers, osteocalcin (OC) and bone alkaline phosphatase, remained high during GH treatment, while the bone resorption marker, deoxypyridinoline (D-Pyr), tended to return to baseline levels after 24 weeks of GH therapy. GH treatment for 48 weeks caused a significant increase in hand grip and a decrease in waist/hip ratio. The mean percentage changes in bone mineral density (BMD) of mid-radius and lumbar spine were + 2.1% and + 1.2%, respectively, although they were not statistically significant. GH treatment was well tolerated and no major side-effects except mild oedema and joint pain were found. Since GH treatment produced durable increases in bone formation markers, BMD continued to be monitored after discontinuation of GH treatment for another 48 weeks, during which significant increases in radial and lumbar BMD (8.1 +/- 2.1 and 3.8 +/- 1.4% above pre- treatment values, respectively) were recorded.
Conclusion: These results indicate that GH attenuates the decrease in muscle strength and bone mass as well as the gain of abdominal fat with ageing in elderly women. The present data provide useful information about the application of GH treatment in elderly women.