We studied the effects of recombinant growth hormone on systemic nitric oxide (NO) formation and hemodynamics in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in adult patients with acquired growth hormone deficiency. 30 patients were randomly allocated to either recombinant human growth hormone (r-hGH; 2.0 IU/d) or placebo for 12 mo. In the subsequent 12 mo, the study was continued with both groups of patients receiving r-hGH. In months 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 of each year, urine and plasma samples were collected for the determination of urinary nitrate and cyclic GMP as indices of systemic NO production, and of plasma IGF-1 levels. Cardiac output was measured in months 1, 12, and 24 by echocardiography. r-hGH induced a fourfold increase in plasma IGF-1 concentrations within the first month of treatment. Urinary nitrate and cyclic GMP excretion rates were low at baseline in growth hormone-deficient patients (nitrate, 96.8+/-7.4 micromol/mmol creatinine; cyclic GMP, 63.6+/-7.1 nmol/mmol creatinine) as compared with healthy controls (nitrate, 167.3+/-7.5 micromol/mmol creatinine; cyclic GMP, 155.2+/-6.9 nmol/mmol creatinine). These indices of NO production were significantly increased by r-hGH, within the first 12 mo in the GH group, and within the second 12 mo in the placebo group. While systolic and diastolic blood pressure were not significantly altered by r-hGH, cardiac output significantly increased by 30-40%, and total peripheral resistance decreased by approximately 30% in both groups when they were assigned to r-hGH treatment. In the second study year, when both groups were given r-hGH, there were no significant differences in plasma IGF-1, urinary nitrate, or cyclic GMP excretion, or hemodynamic parameters between both groups. In conclusion, systemic NO formation is decreased in untreated growth hormone-deficient patients. Treatment with recombinant human growth hormone normalizes urinary nitrate and cyclic GMP excretion, possibly via IGF-1 stimulation of endothelial NO formation, and concomitantly decreases peripheral arterial resistance. Increased NO formation may be one reason for improved cardiovascular performance of patients with acquired hypopituitarism during growth hormone therapy.
R H Böger, C Skamira, S M Bode-Böger, G Brabant, A von zur Muhlen, J C Frolich