Effects of recombinant human growth hormone therapy in adults with Prader-Willi syndrome: a meta-analysis

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012 Jul;77(1):86-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04303.x.


Objective: Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is associated with GH deficiency, deleterious changes in body composition and function. As the effects of recombinant human GH (rhGH) in PWS adults have not been well established, we sought to conduct a meta-analysis of pertinent studies.

Design: Meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of rhGH therapy in PWS adults.

Patients: One hundred and thirty four PWS adults (75 men, 59 women).

Measurements: Literature searches, including publications (PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Register), and abstracts presented at meetings through July 2011 describing studies of rhGH therapy in PWS adults; 8/1194 articles, describing unique cohorts, were included. Two authors independently extracted data and examined study quality.

Results: rhGH therapy for 12 months led to [weighted mean difference (95% CI)] decreased body fat [-2·91% (-3·90, -1·91)], visceral [-32·97 cm(2) (-55·67, -10·26)] and subcutaneous adiposity [-55·24 cm(2) (-89·05, -21·44)], and increased lean body mass (LBM) [2·41 Kg (1·32, 3·49)]. Similar changes in body fat [-2·89% (-4·69, -1·07)] and LBM [2·82 Kg (1·31, 4·33)] were found in longer studies. There were no changes in body mass index (BMI) or lipids. There was a small increase in fasting glucose [0·27 mmol/l (0·05, 0·49)] and trends towards higher fasting insulin [20·24 pmol/l (-0·55, 41·02)] and insulin resistance [HOMA: 0·60 (-0·04, 1·24)] after rhGH therapy for 12 months.

Conclusions: In PWS adults, rhGH therapy led to decreased body adiposity and increased LBM without changes in BMI or lipids. There was a small increase in fasting glucose and trends towards higher insulin and insulin resistance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / adverse effects
  • Human Growth Hormone / pharmacology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Review Literature as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Human Growth Hormone