Low-dose recombinant human growth hormone increases body weight and lean body mass in patients with short bowel syndrome

Ann Surg. 1997 Jan;225(1):88-96. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199701000-00010.


Objective: The authors investigate the effects of low dose recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) on body composition and absorptive capacity in patients with short bowel syndrome from Crohn's disease.

Summary background data: Patients with short bowel syndrome usually are malnourished because of malabsorption. The anabolic effects of high doses of rhGH have been tested in different clinical catabolic conditions, recently including patients with short bowel syndrome. The authors have investigated the effects of low-dose rhGH in short bowel syndrome in a placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial.

Methods: Ten patients were treated with daily subcutaneous doses of rhGH/placebo (0.5 international units/kg-1 per week-1 = 0.024 mg/kg-1 per day-1) for 8 weeks in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial with a minimum of 12 weeks wash-out. Absorptive capacity and biochemical parameters were investigated in a metabolic ward before treatment and during first and last week of treatment. Body composition was determined by DEXA-Scan (Lunar DPX, Scanexport Medical, Helsingborg, Sweden), impedance analysis, and whole body potassium counting.

Results: Low-dose rhGH doubled serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and increased body weight, lean body mass, and total body potassium by 5% (p < 0.05). Fat-free mass and total body water increased by 6% (p = 0.008). Increases in IGF-1 levels correlated with increases in fat-free mass (r = 0.77, p < 0.02). No significant changes in absorptive capacity of water, energy, or protein were detected.

Conclusion: Eight weeks of low-dose rhGH treatment leads to increases in body weight, lean body mass, and fat-free mass in patients with short bowel syndrome, correlated to increases in IGF-1 levels.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / administration & dosage*
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / metabolism


  • Growth Hormone