Pathophysiology of radiation-induced growth hormone deficiency: efficacy and safety of GH replacement

Growth Horm IGF Res. 2006 Jul:16 Suppl A:S30-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2006.03.002. Epub 2006 Apr 18.


Radiation-induced growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is primarily due to hypothalamic damage. GH secretion by the pituitary may be affected either secondary to some degree of quantitative deprivation of hypothalamic input or, if the radiation dose is high enough, by direct pituitary damage. As a consequence, the neurosecretory profile of GH secretion in an irradiated patient remains pulsatile and qualitatively intact. The frequency of pulse generation is unaffected, but the amplitude of the GH pulses is markedly reduced. Over the last 25 years, the final heights achieved by children receiving GH replacement for radiation-induced GHD have improved; these improvements are attributable to refinements in GH dosing schedules, increased use of GnRH analogues for radiation-induced precocious puberty, and a reduced time interval between completion of irradiation and initiation of GH therapy. When retested at the completion of growth, 80-90% of these teenagers are likely to prove severely GH deficient and, therefore, will potentially benefit from GH replacement in adult life. Such long-term GH treatment in patients treated previously for a brain tumor means that critical and continuous surveillance must be devoted to the risk of tumor recurrence and the possibility of second neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / drug therapy*
  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / physiopathology*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / chemically induced*
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / drug therapy*
  • Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Growth and Development
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / standards*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Radiobiology
  • Survivors
  • Treatment Outcome*


  • Growth Hormone