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Growth hormone stimulators improve physical function in older adults

A compound that stimulates the secretion of growth hormone can help older adults improve their physical function and lower their body fat percentage, according to study results that will be presented Wednesday, June 21, at the International Congress of Neuroendocrinology in Pittsburgh. The results will be presented by Dr. George Merriam, professor of medicine at the University of Washington and a physician with the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Merriam helped coordinate endocrine aspects of this multi-site study, along with Dr. Heidi White of Duke University and researchers at Pfizer, Inc.

Nearly 400 adults from 65 to 84 years old were enrolled in the study, and were divided into groups receiving a placebo or one of four different levels of an oral growth hormone secretagogue (GHS), which stimulates the secretion of human growth hormone. Researchers measured the participants' fat and lean body (muscle) mass, as well as their performance in physical tests like stair climbing and a heel-to-toe walk. The participants also received blood tests for levels of growth hormone and a compound called IGF-1, a hormone which responds to growth hormone and mediates some of its effects.

Participants receiving the GHS treatment saw a significant increase in lean body mass about 1.5 kilograms, or 3.3 pounds. The GHS treatment led to improved physical function over the six- to 12-month study period. Participants also had higher levels of growth hormone and IGF-1 in their bloodstreams. Patients receiving the GHS treatment had minor side effects, including increased fatigue, insomnia, and fasting glucose levels.

Growth hormone is vital in childhood growth, and production of the hormone peaks during puberty. However, it continues to affect physical function throughout our lives, and it regulates metabolism and body composition. As adults move into middle age, growth hormone production begins to taper off. Many of the effects of aging increased abdominal fat, reduc
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Contact: Justin Reedy
jreedy@u.washington.edu
206-685-0382
University of Washington
21-Jun-2006


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