Despite the increasing therapeutic use of recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH), its metabolic clearance has not been investigated in detail. To evaluate the kinetics of rhGH as a possible function of GH plasma concentration and glomerular filtration rate (GFR), we investigated the steady state metabolic clearance rate (MCR), disappearance half-life, and apparent volume of distribution of rhGH at low and high physiological as well as supraphysiological plasma GH levels during pharmacological suppression of endogenous GH secretion in human subjects with normal and reduced renal function. GH in plasma and urine was determined by an immunoradiometric assay, and GFR by inulin clearance. In all subjects MCR decreased and plasma half-life increased with increasing plasma GH concentrations (P < 0.001). MCR of rhGH was approximately half in patients with chronic renal failure at each GH level and plasma half-life was increased by 25-50%. Allowing for the linear dependence of MCR on GFR and assuming single-compartment distribution, the estimated renal fraction of total MCR was 25-53 and 4-15% in controls and patients, respectively. Saturation of extrarenal disposal of GH was suggested by an inverse hyperbolic relationship between extrarenal MCR and plasma GH concentrations in all subjects. Fractional GH excretion was up to 1,000-fold higher in patients than in controls. We conclude that MCR of hGH is a function of plasma GH concentrations and GFR. Extrarenal elimination is saturable in the upper physiological range of GH concentrations, whereas renal MCR is independent of plasma GH levels. The kidney handles GH like a microprotein involving glomerular filtration, tubular reabsorption, and urinary excretion.
D Haffner, F Schaefer, J Girard, E Ritz, O Mehls