Growth Hormone Therapy Does Not Increase the Risk of Craniopharyngioma and Nonfunctioning Pituitary Adenoma Recurrence

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020 May 1;105(5):dgaa089. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgaa089.


Context: Recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) replacement therapy is often prescribed in patients with nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma (NFPA) or craniopharyngioma.

Objective: To study whether rhGH therapy in patients with adult growth hormone deficiency (AGHD) increases the risk of pituitary tumor recurrence.

Design: Retrospective, observational study.

Setting: Tertiary care center.

Patients: We studied 283 consecutive patients with AGHD due to NFPA or craniopharyngioma between 1995 and 2018.

Intervention: rhGH treatment at standard doses was initiated in 123 patients (43.5%). The remaining 160 patients served as controls.

Main outcome measure: Risk of tumor recurrence in rhGH-treated and control patients.

Results: In univariate analysis, recurrence of the pituitary tumor was less frequent in rhGH-treated patients (19.5%) than in controls (29.7%; hazard ratio [HR] 0.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.32-0.86; P = .01). Multivariate Cox analysis demonstrated that the risk of tumor recurrence was associated with detection of residual disease at the baseline magnetic resonance imaging (HR 9.17; 95% CI, 4.88-17.22; P < .001) and not having performed radiotherapy (HR 16.97; 95% CI, 7.55-38.16; P < .001), while rhGH treatment was no longer associated with a lower risk of recurrence (HR 0.82; 95% CI, 0.47-1.44; P = .50).

Conclusions: We found no association between rhGH replacement and the risk of tumor recurrence in patients with AGHD caused by NFPA or craniopharyngioma. These data add to the mounting evidence that rhGH therapy has a neutral effect on the recurrence of pituitary tumors.

Précis: Replacement therapy with rhGH is prescribed to patients with adult growth hormone deficiency. Our study found no increased risk of pituitary tumor recurrence.

Keywords: growth hormone deficiency; hypopituitarism; pituitary neoplasm; pituitary surgery.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / epidemiology
  • Adenoma / pathology*
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Craniopharyngioma / epidemiology
  • Craniopharyngioma / pathology*
  • Craniopharyngioma / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Human Growth Hormone / adverse effects
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hypophysectomy / adverse effects
  • Hypopituitarism / drug therapy*
  • Hypopituitarism / epidemiology
  • Hypopituitarism / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / chemically induced
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pituitary Neoplasms / surgery
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Human Growth Hormone