Childhood-onset growth hormone deficiency, cognitive function and brain N-acetylaspartate

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2005 May;30(4):357-63. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2004.10.002. Epub 2005 Jan 12.


Cognitive deficits have been reported in adults with childhood-onset growth hormone (GH) deficiency. We evaluated cognitive deficits simultaneously with parameters for neuronal integrity using (1)H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in a cross-sectional design. We studied 11 adults (mean age 24.5 years) with childhood-onset GH deficiency, which persisted after reaching final height. All subjects were evaluated after interruption of GH supplementation for at least 3 months. We performed neuropsychological assessment (NPA) using tests evaluating memory, mental processing speed, reading ability and executive functioning. MRS was used to assess brain N-acetylaspartate (NAA)/choline ratios. Data were compared with an age-, sex- and education-matched control group (n=9, mean age 27.3 years). NPA demonstrated attenuated performance of the patients in the delayed verbal memory recall score (P<0.05) and the trail making A test (P<0.05), a measure of planning of behavior, processing speed and attention. Other neuropsychological tests were not affected. NAA/choline ratios were significantly reduced (P<0.01) in GH deficient subjects. Specific cognitive defects indicating affected memory and attention were found in patients with childhood-onset GH deficiency. These defects occur simultaneously with reduced neuronal integrity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aging / psychology
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / blood
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology*
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / deficiency*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Choline