Background: Isolated growth hormone deficiency (IGHD) provides the ideal model to characterize GHD without interference from other pituitary deficiencies or their treatment. No study has addressed the question whether adult patients with IGHD differ in clinical presentation or in responsiveness to GH replacement from adult patients with multiple pituitary hormone deficiencies (MPHD) receiving conventional replacement therapy.
Patients and methods: Data were retrieved from the outcomes research database KIMS (Pfizer international metabolic database). Patients with IGHD accounted for 9.6% (274/2868) of all GHD patients. Patients were separated according to the timing of onset. In the adult-onset (AO) group, 167 patients with IGHD were compared to 1992 patients with MPHD. In the childhood-onset (CO) group, 107 patients with IGHD were compared to 602 patients with MPHD. To assess the effect of GH replacement after one year, a longitudinal sub-analysis in the AO group was performed comparing 89 IGHD patients to 1234 MPHD patients. The same study was done in the CO group comparing 66 IGHD patients to 386 MPHD patients. Because IGHD patients were significantly younger than MPHD patients, data analysis was also performed after adjustment for gender and age.
Results: In the AO group, non-functioning and secreting pituitary adenomas were the most common primary diagnoses in both IGHD and MPHD. Medical history revealed a high prevalence of hypertension and fractures in both subgroups, but also of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. The prevalence of obesity was high and the waist circumference was elevated. The lipid profile was unfavourable in both IGHD and MPHD. IGF-I concentration and SDS were comparable in both subgroup. Quality of life assessed by QoL-AGHDA was equally poor in both IGHD and MPHD. GH replacement therapy induced favourable changes without distinction. In the CO group, the most common cause in both subgroups was idiopathic. Fracture rate was similarly prevalent in both IGHD and MPHD. Obesity was prominent in both subgroups, but BMI and waist circumference were lower in IGHD. Adverse lipid changes were similarly found in both IGHD and MPHD. IGF-I concentration and SDS were significantly higher in the IGHD subgroup compared to the MPHD subgroup. The QoL-AGHDA score was equally abnormal in both IGHD and MPHD. GH replacement achieved similar significant improvement in both subgroups.
Conclusions: GHD patients with AO-IGHD and AO-MPHD present with a similar clinical expression and respond similarly to GH replacement. Patients with CO-IGHD are less severely affected by GHD than CO-MPHD patients, but, nevertheless, both groups show a comparable adverse lipid profile and poor quality of life and respond favourably to GH replacement. These findings support the concept that GH alone is responsible for most if not all metabolic aspects of hypopituitary patients receiving conventional replacement therapy, regardless of age of onset or aetiology. As a consequence, GH replacement therapy not only has potential benefit in GHD patients with additional hormonal deficits, but also the indication of treatment must be extended to patients with isolated GHD.