Resistance to the growth-promoting and metabolic effects of growth hormone in children with chronic liver disease

John C. Bucuvalas, Wayne Cutfield, Jo Ann Horn, Mark A. Sperling, James E. Heubi, Barbara Campaigne, Steven D. Chernausek

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Because growth failure is a frequent complication of chronic liver disease in childhood, we examined the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor type I axis and its relationship to growth disturbances, nutritional status, and carbohydrate metabolism in nine children (2.1 to 18.6 years of age) with chronic cholestatic liver disease. Seven had cholestasis associated with splenomegaly and histologic findings of cirrhosis; two patients had Alagille syndrome. Stature was ≤15th percentlle in all except the youngest subject and <5th percentile in five subjects. Ten-hour, nocturnal, integrated serum concentrations of growth hormone were considerably higher in patients with cholestasis than in control subjects (mean±SD) 9.7±3.8 vs 4.7±1.9 ng/ml; p<0.02). Serum concentrations of insulin-like growth hormone type I were <95th percentile confidence intervals for age- and sex-matched norms in five patients and at the lower limits of normal in the remaining four patients. Insulin sensitivity, determined with the minimal model intravenous glucose tolerance test, was not decreased in five patients despite elevated levels of circulating growth hormone. The estimated mean caloric and protein intake exceeded the recommended dietary allowance and the weight-for-height index was greater than 90% for six of nine patients. Triceps and subscapular skin-fold thicknesses, indicators of body fat stores, were >25th percentile for five of nine and eight of nine patients, respectively, suggesting deficient lipolytic action of GH. We conclude that children with cholestatic liver disease have a resistance to the growth-promoting, diabetogenic, and lipolytic properties of growth hormone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-402
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1990
Externally publishedYes


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