Pharmacological and physiological growth hormone stimulation tests to predict successful GH therapy in children

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2009 Aug;22(8):679-94. doi: 10.1515/jpem.2009.22.8.679.


Although the current use of growth hormone (GH) stimulation tests (GHSTs) is still subject to debate, the tests are widely used to diagnose GH deficiency. This literature review evaluates primarily the sensitivity, specificity and reliability of GHSTs and secondarily their convenience. Single pharmacological tests typically address only a single pathway in the complex physiological regulation of GH secretion and are therefore characterized by lower sensitivity, specificity and reliability than combined pharmacological tests or physiological tests. In spite of the high levels of sensitivity, specificity and reliability, physiological tests require considerably more effort to perform, from the physician as well as from the child. Therefore, a need for an alternative, convenient, physiological GHST still remains. Oral ingestion of dietary protein is convenient in practice and may induce more physiological stimulation of GH secretion, hence may be a promising valuable addition to the existing GHSTs in GH deficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arginine
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / diagnosis*
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / drug therapy
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sleep


  • Growth Hormone
  • Arginine