Abnormalities of the axial and proximal appendicular skeleton in adults with Laron syndrome (growth hormone insensitivity)

Skeletal Radiol. 2008 Feb;37(2):153-60. doi: 10.1007/s00256-007-0402-7. Epub 2007 Nov 9.


Objective: To investigate abnormalities in the skeleton (with the exclusion of the skull, cervical spine, hands and feet) in patients with Laron syndrome, who have an inborn growth hormone resistance and congenital insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) deficiency.

Design and patients: The study group was composed of 15 untreated patients with Laron syndrome (seven male and eight female) aged 21-68 years. Plain films of the axial and appendicular skeleton were evaluated retrospectively for abnormalities in structure and shape. The cortical width of the long bones was evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively (in the upper humerus and mid-femur), and the cortical index was calculated and compared with published references. Measurements were taken of the mid-anteroposterior and cranio-caudal diameters of the vertebral body and spinous process at L3, the interpedicular distance at L1 and L5, and the sacral slope. Thoracic and lumbar osteophytes were graded on a 5-point scale. Values were compared with a control group of 20 healthy persons matched for age.

Results: The skeleton appeared small in all patients. No signs of osteopenia were visible. The cortex of the long bones appeared thick in the upper limbs in 11 patients and in the lower limbs in four. Compared with the reference values, the cortical width was thicker than average in the humerus and thinner in the femur. The vertebral diameters at L3 and the interpedicular distances at L1 and L5 were significantly smaller in the patients than in the control subjects (P<0.001); however, at L5 the canal was wider, relative to the vertebral body. The study group had a higher rate of anterior osteophytes in the lumbar spine than the controls had, and their osteophytes were also significantly larger. In the six patients for whom radiographs of the upper extremity in its entirety were available on one film, the ulna appeared to be rotated. In one 22-year-old man, multiple epiphyses were still open.

Conclusion: Congenital IGF-1 deficiency leads to skeletal abnormalities characterized by small bones, narrow spinal canal, and delayed bone age. The limitation in elbow distensibility common to patients with Laron syndrome may be related to a marked retroversion of the humeral head.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Determination by Skeleton / methods
  • Aged
  • Body Weights and Measures / methods
  • Bone and Bones / abnormalities*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Femur / abnormalities
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Humerus / abnormalities
  • Humerus / diagnostic imaging
  • Laron Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteophyte / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spine / abnormalities
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging