Objective: We aimed to investigate the effect of low dose (1800 cGy) prophylactic cranial irradiation on physiological growth hormone secretion.
Design: We performed an analysis of 24-hour serum GH profiles using 20-minute sampling.
Patients: Forty-four children were studied, of whom 21 were long-term survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and 23 were normal children. They were further subdivided into prepubertal, pubertal and post-pubertal groups.
Measurements: GH profiles were analysed by autocorrelation, Fourier transformation and spectral analysis of stationarized data, and peak detection using the Pulsar peak detection program. RESULTS In the normal children, there was a significant increase in the median (range) area under the curve (AUC) of the GH profile between the prepubertal and pubertal groups (62 (11-124) and 137 (142-158) IU/I/h respectively, (P less than 0.01)). There was also a change in the spectral analysis through puberty. The dominant frequencies were spread widely in the prepubertal and post-pubertal groups but sharply focused in the pubertal group. In the cranially irradiated children there was no significant increase in AUC between the prepubertal (62(13-110) IU/I/h) and pubertal groups (92 (14-163) IU/I/h). The wide range of dominant frequencies persisted in the pubertal cranially irradiated group due to the presence of additional high frequency pulses. The impression of a disturbance of the periodicity of GH secretion in the cranially irradiated pubertal group was further supported by the finding that the autocorrelation function in this group alone was not significantly different from that which would arise from random data.
Conclusions: A novel form of GH insufficiency has been observed after low dose irradiation in childhood in which an abnormality of periodicity and a quantitative reduction in GH secretion appears restricted to puberty.