Background: Recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) has been used for 15 years to treat Australian children with short stature caused by chronic kidney disease. The Australia-wide growth hormone database, OZGROW, has prospectively collected data for all patients treated with rhGH. The impact of rhGH therapy on linear growth in patients with chronic renal failure (CRF) was assessed by retrospectively analysing this data.
Methods: Growth data prior to and during treatment, bone age, and pubertal data were recorded from the database. Questionnaire data provided further information on underlying renal disease, medication use, bone disease, and final height. Patients were classified according to treatment modality; conservative management of CRF, haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, and transplant.
Results: Data on 183 patients were analysed. The duration of rhGH therapy ranged from 1.2 to 10.5 years (mean 5.3 years). The height standard deviation score (Ht SDS) in each patient group at the start and end of rhGH treatment were as follows: Predialysis: -2.6 to -2.1; dialysis: -2.7 to -2.3; transplant: -3.1 to -2.8 (P = 0.0001). Thirty-nine patients achieved final adult height, with mean Ht SDS before rhGH therapy being -2.65, and at final height it was 2.3. The mean final height for the males was 161.8 cm and for the females, it was 149.5 cm.
Conclusion: The effect of treatment with rhGH was less dramatic than reported in the literature. However, the positive benefit of rhGH therapy was apparent both in the short and long-term. Therapy with rhGH maintained a steady Ht SDS with time; without rhGH, it would be anticipated that many children would show a steady decline in Ht SDS. The maximum benefit was seen in preterminal renal failure, and early therapy (before dialysis or transplantation) is recommended before an irrecoverable loss of height potential occurs.