Short-term cyproheptadine therapy in underweight children: effects on growth and serum insulin-like growth factor-I

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2009 May;22(5):425-32. doi: 10.1515/jpem.2009.22.5.425.


Background: Cyproheptadine, an appetite stimulant, has been used in poor-appetite underweight children. Its beneficial effects on enhancing growth rate have been demonstrated. In contrast, an adverse effect on blunting growth hormone (GH) secretion has also been reported. To date, however, its effect on insulinlike growth factor-I (IGF-I), a GH-mediated growth factor, has not been documented.

Aim: To examine the effect of cyproheptadine therapy on growth and serum IGF-I in underweight children.

Methods: Twenty-one underweight, otherwise healthy children were recruited. They were randomly assigned into cyproheptadine administration (n = 10) and placebo (n = 11) groups. The former received cyproheptadine for 4 months. Serum IGF-I levels were measured in both groups.

Results: Weight and height velocities and IGF-I z-scores during cyproheptadine therapy were significantly greater in the intervention group than those of the placebo group.

Conclusion: Cyproheptadine therapy in underweight children increased caloric intake and serum IGF-I concentration and consequently enhanced growth velocity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Appetite Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cyproheptadine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Human Growth Hormone / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Thinness / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Appetite Stimulants
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Cyproheptadine
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I