COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Endocrine and metabolic aspects of adult Prader-Willi syndrome with special emphasis on the effect of growth hormone treatment

Charlotte Höybye
Growth Hormone & IGF Research 2004, 14 (1): 1-15
14700552
Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder characterized by mild mental retardation, short stature, abnormal body composition, muscular hypotonia and distinctive behavioural features. Excessive eating causes progressive obesity with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. In the PWS genotype loss of one or more normally active paternal genes in region q11-13 on chromosome 15 is seen. It is supposed that the genetic alteration leads to dysfunction of several hypothalamic centres and growth hormone (GH) deficiency (GHD) is common. PWS is well described in children, in whom GH treatment improves body composition, linear growth, physical strength and agility. Few studies have focused on adults. We examined a cohort of 19 young adults with clinical PWS (13 with positive genotype) and mean BMI of 35 kg/m2. At baseline the activity of the GH-insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) system was impaired with low GH values, low total IGF-I and in relation to the obesity low levels of free IGF-I and non-suppressed IGF-binding-protein-1 (IGFBP-1). 2/3 were hypogonadal. Bone mineral density (BMD) was low. Four patients had impaired glucose tolerance and nine patients high homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index, indicating insulin resistance. Seven patients had a moderate dyslipidemia. The 13 patients with the PWS genotype were shorter and had significantly lower IGF-I. Seventeen (9 men and 8 women), subsequently completed a 12 months GH treatment trial, and GH had beneficial effects on body composition without significant adverse effects. The effects were more pronounced in the patients with the PWS genotype. Analysis of peptides involved in appetite regulation showed that leptin levels were high reflecting obesity and as a consequence NPY levels were low. In relation to the patients obesity circulating oxytocin levels were abnormally low and ghrelin levels abnormally high. Thus, oxytocin and ghrelin might be involved in the hyperphagia. NPY, leptin and ghrelin did not change during GH treatment. In conclusion this pilot study showed that adults with PWS have a partial GH deficiency, and GH treatment has beneficial effects on body composition in adult PWS without significant side-effects. Larger and longer term studies on the effect of GH replacement in adult PWS are encouraged.

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