Clinical characteristics, timing of peak responses and safety aspects of two dosing regimens of the glucagon stimulation test in evaluating growth hormone and cortisol secretion in adults

Pituitary. 2013 Jun;16(2):220-30. doi: 10.1007/s11102-012-0407-7.


Weight-based (WB: 0.03 mg/kg) and fixed dose (FD: 1-1.5 mg) regimens of the glucagon stimulation test (GST) have been used to evaluate GH and cortisol secretion in children and adults, respectively. However, experience of the WB regimen in assessing GH and cortisol secretion in adults are limited. We describe a multicenter experience using WB and FD regimens in evaluating GH and cortisol secretion in adults suspected of GH deficiency and central adrenal insufficiency. Retrospective case series of GSTs (n = 515) performed at five tertiary centers. Peak and nadir glucose, and peak GH and peak cortisol responses occurred later with WB (mean dose: 2.77 mg) compared to FD (mean dose: 1.20 mg) regimens. Main side-effects were nausea and vomiting, particularly in younger females. Nausea was comparable but vomiting was more frequent in the WB regimen (WB: 10.0 % vs FD: 2.4 %; P < 0.05). Peak and nadir glucose, ΔGH, and peak and Δcortisol were higher in the WB regimen. In both regimens, age correlated negatively with peak cortisol levels, and body mass index (BMI), fasting, peak and nadir glucose correlated negatively with peak GH levels. WB and FD regimens can induce adult GH and cortisol secretion, but peak responses occur later in the WB regimen. Both regimens are relatively safe, and vomiting was more prevalent in the WB regimen. As age, BMI, and glucose tolerance negatively correlated with peak GH and cortisol levels, the WB regimen may be more effective than the FD regimen in older overweight glucose intolerant patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Glucagon / metabolism*
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Glucagon
  • Hydrocortisone