GH replacement therapy in elderly GH-deficient patients: a systematic review

Eur J Endocrinol. 2011 May;164(5):657-65. doi: 10.1530/EJE-10-1170. Epub 2011 Feb 21.


Context Recombinant human GH (rhGH) is prescribed for the treatment of adults with GH deficiency (GHD). However, conflicting data are available on the efficacy of rhGH treatment in elderly GHD patients. Objective To assess the efficacy of rhGH treatment in elderly GHD subjects. Methods We searched the available literature in PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science and EMBASE. Study selection Studies on GHD patients, aged >60 years, treated with rhGH were eligible for inclusion. Data extraction was performed by two reviewers independently. Results We found 11 eligible studies with a total of 534 patients. Only two studies had prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study designs of rhGH treatment with a duration of 6 (n=15) and 12 months (n=62), respectively. Treatment with rhGH decreased total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by 4-8 and 11-16%, respectively, but did not alter high density lipoprotein or triglyceride levels. RhGH did not affect body mass index, but decreased waist circumference (by ∼3 cm) and waist/hip ratio. RhGh did not consistently affect blood pressure or bone mineral density. RhGH increased lean body mass by 2-5% and decreased total fat mass by 7-10% in four studies, but did not affect body composition in two other studies. RhGH consistently improved quality of life (QoL) parameters reflected in AGHDA-scores. There were no explicit data on elderly GHD patients aged >80 years. Conclusion RhGH replacement in elderly subjects with GHD decreases LDL cholesterol levels and improves QoL, but the effects on other parameters are not unequivocal. There were no data on the efficacy and safety of rhGH treatment in octogenarians with GHD.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / blood
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / drug therapy
  • Dwarfism, Pituitary / genetics
  • Human Growth Hormone / deficiency*
  • Human Growth Hormone / genetics
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Recombinant Proteins / blood
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Human Growth Hormone