Growth hormone insensitivity in children with biliary atresia

John C. Bucuvalas, Jo Ann Horn, Joyce Slusher, Mary Pat Alfaro, Steven D. Chernausek

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32 Scopus citations


Malnutrition is a critical predictor of mortality and morbidity in children with biliary atresia who undergo orthotopic liver transplantation. Growth hormone (GH) enhances nitrogen retention in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease, sepsis, and in fasted adult volunteers. The goal of this study was to assess the acute response to recombinant human GH (rhGH) treatment in children with biliary atresia to determine whether GH therapy was likely to improve pretransplant nutritional status. Five children, aged 10-32 months, with biliary atresia and persistent cholestasis despite surgical attempts to reestablish bile flow, were studied. All five children had portal hypertension, conjugated hyperbilirubinemia, and decreased serum albumin concentrations. Length, weight, and growth velocity were decreased in all five children. Despite adequate energy and protein intake, fat stores were depleted in all five subjects, and somatic protein stores were diminished in all except one child. Baseline serum concentrations of insulin- like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) were low (8.4 ± 2 ng/ml and 0.2 ± 0.1 mg/l respectively). In the four children who completed the study, serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels did not change after treatment with rhGH (0.1 mg/kg/day) for 4 days. Our findings indicate that children with biliary atresia awaiting liver transplantation are insensitive to GH and that treatment with GH is unlikely to promote anabolism. A rationale exists for examining the effect of treatment with IGF-I, which mediates the anabolic effects of GH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-140
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Growth hormone
  • IGF-binding protein-3
  • Insulin-like growth factor-I
  • Monoethylglycinexylidide
  • Recombinant human growth hormone


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