Influence of body mass index and gender on growth hormone (GH) responses to GH-releasing hormone plus arginine and insulin tolerance tests

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Mar;90(3):1563-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2004-1450. Epub 2004 Dec 21.


The aim of this study is to assess whether gender and body mass index (BMI) should be considered in developing thresholds to define GH deficiency, using GH responses to GHRH + arginine (ARG) stimulation and insulin tolerance test (ITT). Thirty-nine healthy subjects (19 males, 20 females; ages 21-50 yr) underwent GHRH + ARG, and another 27 subjects (19 males, 8 females; ages 20-49 yr) underwent ITT. Peak GH response was significantly higher (P = 0.005) after GHRH + ARG than with ITT, and this difference could not be explained by age, gender, or BMI. Peak GH response was negatively correlated with BMI in both tests (GHRH + ARG, r = -0.76; and ITT, r = -0.65). Peak GH response to GHRH + ARG was higher in females than males (P = 0.004; ratio = 2.4), but it was attenuated after eliminating the influence of BMI (P = 0.13; ratio = 1.6). No significant gender differences were found in peak GH responses to ITT, which could be due to the smaller number of female subjects studied. GH response to GHRH + ARG and ITT stimulation is sensitive to BMI differences and less so to gender differences. A higher BMI is associated with a depressed GH response to both stimulation tests. BMI should therefore be considered as a factor when defining the diagnostic cut-off points in the assessment of GH deficiency, whereas whether gender should be likewise used is inconclusive from this study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arginine*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Endocrine
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Human Growth Hormone / deficiency*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligopeptides*
  • Sex Characteristics


  • Insulin
  • Oligopeptides
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • growth hormone releasing hexapeptide
  • Arginine