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Pharmacologic Therapy in Growth Hormone Disorders and the Heart

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Growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) axis is not only involved in the regulation of somatic growth but also has important physiological functions in adults. Several studies have shown that GH deficiency in adults is associated with abnormalities in body composition, metabolic derangements, and suboptimal physical performance. Furthermore, GH/IGF-I axis plays an important role in the maintenance of heart structure and function. Until recently, GH therapy was only used to treat short stature children, with or without established GH deficiency, and it remains common practice to discontinue GH replacement therapy when final height is achieved.

Acromegaly, entity characterized by GH hypersecretion, is associated with an increased risk of premature death. Cardiac complications are known to be major determinants of the shortened life expectancy. Treatment of acromegaly accounts for a substantial decrease in morbidity and mortality. Surgery, radiation therapy and bromocriptine have only been able to reduce GH levels to normal levels in 10-30% of patients. The synthesis of somatostatin analogs has provided a new approach to acromegaly treatment. These drugs reduce GH and IGF-I levels in 80% of cases and normalize them in 40-60% of cases.

Finally, GH/IGF-I system improves left ventricular systolic function and has also indirect effects on the cardiovascular system, mainly as a consequence of the peripheral vasodilatation. These effects are important in the understanding of the potential role of GH on improving ventricular systolic dysfunction and point to the use of GH as a potential therapy for chronic heart failure.

The aim of the present review is to provide an update overview describing the role of GH on acromegaly, adult GH deficiency and heart failure, as well as the influence of GH-based therapy on heart structure and function.
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Keywords: Growth hormone disorders; acromegaly; growth hormone deficiency; heart; somatostatin analogs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cardiology. General Hospital of Alicante, Pintor Baeza s/n. 03010 Alicante. Spain.

Publication date: 01 June 2007

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