Growth Hormone Treatment for Adults With Prader-Willi Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Sep 27;106(10):3068-3091. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgab406.


Context: Features of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) overlap with features of growth hormone (GH) deficiency, like small hands and feet, short stature, increased body fat, and low muscle mass and strength. In children with PWS, GH treatment (GHt) improves physical health and cognition. GHt has become the standard of care in PWS children, but in adults this is not yet the case.

Objective: This work aims to provide an overview of the current knowledge on GHt in PWS adults.

Methods: Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases were searched. Study selection included randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and nonrandomized (un)controlled trials (NRCTs) that reported data for adults with PWS, who received GHt for at least 6 months. Data on body composition, body mass index (BMI), cardiovascular end points, bone, cognitive function, quality of life, and safety were extracted.

Results: Nine RCTs and 20 NRCTs were included. Body composition improved during 12 months of GHt with an increase in mean (95% CI) lean body mass of 1.95 kg (0.04 to 3.87 kg) and a reduction of mean (95% CI) fat mass of -2.23% (-4.10% to -0.36%). BMI, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, fasting glucose levels, and bone mineral density did not change during GHt. There were no major safety issues.

Conclusion: GHt appears to be safe and improves body composition in adults with PWS. Because poor body composition is closely linked to the observed high incidence of cardiovascular morbidity in adults with PWS, improving body composition might reduce cardiovascular complications in this vulnerable patient group.

Keywords: Prader-Willi syndrome; body composition; cardiovascular; growth hormone.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Human Growth Hormone