Defects of insulin action and skeletal muscle glucose metabolism in growth hormone-deficient adults persist after 24 months of recombinant human growth hormone therapy

M Christopher, F L Hew, M Oakley, C Rantzau, F Alford
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1998, 83 (5): 1668-81
We have previously reported that GH-deficient (GHD) adults are severely insulin resistant. In the present study, we determined the effects of 6 months (n = 7) and 24 months (long-term; n = 11) of recombinant human GH (rhGH) therapy (approximately 0.22 IU/kg.week) on body composition and fasting biochemical (including lipid) parameters, and baseline and insulin-stimulated: 1) rates of hepatic glucose production, total glucose disposal (Rd), total glycolysis (GF) and glucose storage (GS); and 2) skeletal muscle glucose processing [using the euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic (approximately 60 mU/L) clamp technique with tritiated glucose infusion coupled with skeletal muscle biopsies]. To allow baseline comparison, these measurements were also obtained from 10 control subjects matched to the pretreated GHD adults for age, sex, and body mass index. Long-term rhGH therapy in GHD adults induced significant improvements in fat mass, abdominal fat mass and fat free mass, and reductions in fasting cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels (P < 0.05-0.01 vs. pretreatment values). However, there was a significant increase in fasting insulin (13.1 +/- 0.9 vs. 8.6 +/- 1.1 mU/L; P < 0.01) and connecting peptide (0.56 +/- 0.05 vs. 0.41 +/- 0.06 nmol/L; P < 0.05). Although rates of baseline hepatic glucose production, GF, and GS were unchanged, the insulin-stimulated increment (delta) in Rd, GF, and GS remained markedly attenuated in the long-term rhGH-treated GHD adults [pretreatment: delta Rd 16.6 +/- 3.4, delta GF 3.0 +/- 1.2, delta GS 13.6 +/- 3.0 vs. 24 months of rhGH: delta Rd 17.2 +/- 3.3, delta GF 3.1 +/- 0.9, delta GS 14.1 +/- 2.5 vs. controls: delta Rd 42.6 +/- 4.3, delta GF 9.2 +/- 1.9, delta GS 35.9 +/- 4.5 mumol/kg fat free mass.min; P < 0.05-0.01 vs. controls]. Additionally, there was a sustained reduction in the insulin-stimulated skeletal muscle glycogen synthase fractional velocity (pretreatment: 0.29 +/- 0.03 vs. 24 months of rhGH: 0.24 +/- 0.03 vs. controls: 0.48 +/- 0.04; both P < 0.05 vs. controls), which was accompanied by a sustained 44% decrease in baseline glycogen content and a 70% increase in baseline im glucose concentrations in the presence of low-to-normal glucose 6-phosphate levels and persisting euglycemia. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that body weight and fasting free fatty acid and high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol accounted for 82% of the variance in the insulin sensitivity index in long-term rhGH-treated adults, and that the 24-month fasting insulin-like growth factor 1 was a negative predictor of the change in insulin sensitivity (r = -0.82; P < 0.01). In conclusion, despite improvements in body composition and lipid profiles, the severe defects of in vivo insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle intracellular glucose phosphorylation and glycogen synthase activity, which are associated with modestly elevated insulin-like growth factor 1 levels, normal free fatty acid levels, and the development of hyperinsulinemia, persist with long-term rhGH therapy.

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