JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Effects of 18-month of growth hormone (GH) replacement therapy in patients with Sheehan's syndrome.

OBJECTIVE: Growth hormone deficiency (GHD) in adults is associated with abnormal body composition, altered lipid profile, reduced quality of life and osteoporosis. Replacement with recombinant GH results in significant improvements in most of these altered parameters. The most common cause of adult GHD in previous studies was due to pituitary tumors or their treatment. Sheehan's syndrome classically refers to postpartum hypopituitarism due to pituitary necrosis occurring secondary to massive bleeding at or just after delivery. While severe GHD is a well-established feature of Sheehan's syndrome, the effects of Growth hormone replacement therapy (GHRT) in these patients has not been extensively investigated. The present study was therefore designed to investigate the effects of GHD and GHRT in patients with Sheehan's syndrome.

DESIGN: The study comprised 14 severely GH-deficient patients with Sheehan's syndrome with a mean age of 49.4+/-7.9 yr. Treatment with GH was started at a dose of 0.15 mg per day in month 1, was increased to 0.30 mg per day in month 2, and was maintained at 0.66 mg per day until the end of month 18. With the similar maintenance dose adequate age adjusted IGF-I levels for each patient has been achieved. Blood pressure, lipid profile, biochemical parameters, anthropometric measurements including body mass index (BMI), waist and waist to hip ratio (W/H), and bone mineral density (BMD) were investigated before and at 3, 6, 12 and 18 months of the GHRT.

RESULTS: The duration of GHD from the onset of the disease was 19.4+/-1.6 yr. The majority of the patients (78%) had panhypopituitarism. At baseline mean total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels were higher than the normal reference ranges but HDL-cholesterol levels were within the lower normal range. During the treatment period total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels decreased and HDL-cholesterol levels increased significantly (P < 0.05). Waist circumference and waist to hip ratio were decreased significantly during the GHRT when compared to basal measurements (P < 0.05). There was a significant positive correlation between the basal waist circumference and the duration of GHD (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: This study clearly demonstrates that Sheehan's syndrome is characterized by severe and long-standing GHD. GHRT have beneficial effects in several parameters including lipid profile and waist circumference. But we could not observe any improvement in BMD after 18 months of GHRT. However interpretations of the present results need to be made with caution because of the uncontrolled design. Further placebo controlled studies with high number of patients with Sheehan's syndrome are warranted.

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