Summary: Growth hormone (GH) deficiency in adults affects many physiological functions. It may result in reduced muscle volume and strength, changes in body mass, lowered metabolic rate, low energy and sexual drive and impaired cognitive function. GH deficiency may also lead to an increase in mortality due to vascular disorders. However, the benefits of GH replacement are still controversial.
Recently, investigators have looked at the effects of GH replacement therapy on the well-being of patients. However, the studies which have been published generally have small sample sizes, use inadequate methodology and employ health status measures that lack the necessary sensitivity. Despite these weaknesses, results suggest that replacement GH does have a positive effect on well-being.
A GH-specific quality-of-life measure has now been produced, which will provide a clearer view of the benefits of replacement therapy for patients. The use of this measure should help guide decisions about the necessity of providing replacement therapy for GH-deficient patients.