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Study: growth hormone-deficient young adults need larger replacement doses than older adults

CHAPEL HILL -- Young adults who received growth hormone treatment as children for deficiencies in producing that essential hormone likely will need continued treatment for years and at higher doses than doctors now prescribe, a new multi-center North American study concludes.

Higher doses of the hormone should help protect such patients from excessive and eventually crippling declines in the density of their bones and from higher blood levels of harmful fats that could promote heart disease, researchers say. Earlier reports suggested growth hormone also helped maintain healthy muscle mass and lessened depression, a common complaint among patients.

A report on the study, conducted over two years at 12 U.S. and five Canadian medical centers, appears in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Dr. Louis Underwood, professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, led the research. Co-authors of the paper were Drs. Kenneth M. Attie and Joyce Baptista of Genentech Inc. of San Francisco and the Genentech Collaborative Study Group.

"We did this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to improve our understanding of what doses we should give young adults who need treatment," said Underwood. "We believe our findings will change clinical practice in the United States and abroad."

Typically, doctors treat growth hormone-deficient children with hormone doses that reach a peak in late adolescence when the naturally secreted compound reaches its maximum in healthy children, he said. As patients age into adulthood, clinicians often stop treatment to determine whether there is a continued need. If so, treatment is restarted at significantly lower doses since older adults need less growth hormone and cannot tolerate it as well as children.

"Besides the placebo, which is inactive, we tested a dose of 25 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day
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Contact: David Williamson
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
5-Nov-2003


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