The growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) axis regulates cardiac growth, stimulates myocardial contractility and influences the vascular system. The GH/IGF-1 axis controls intrinsic cardiac contractility by enhancing the intracellular calcium availability and regulating expression of contractile proteins; stimulates cardiac growth, by increasing protein synthesis; modifies systemic vascular resistance, by activating the nitric oxide system and regulating non-endothelial-dependent actions. The relationship between the GH/IGF-1 axis and the cardiovascular system has been extensively demonstrated in numerous experimental studies and confirmed by the cardiac derangements secondary to both GH excess and deficiency. Several years ago, a clinical non-blinded study showed, in seven patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and chronic heart failure (CHF), a significant improvement in cardiac function and structure after three months of treatment with recombinant GH plus standard therapy for heart failure. More recent studies, including a small double-blind placebo-controlled study on GH effects on exercise tolerance and cardiopulmonary performance, have shown that GH benefits patients with CHF secondary to both ischemic and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. However, conflicting results emerge from other placebo-controlled trials. These discordant findings may be explained by the degree of CHF-associated GH resistance. In conclusion, we believe that more clinical and experimental studies are necessary to exactly understand the mechanisms that determine the variable sensitivity to GH and its positive effects in the failing heart.
Keywords: Acromegaly; Chronic heart failure; GH deficiency.; GH/IGF-1 axis.