Thyroid function during growth hormone therapy

J O Jørgensen, N E Skakkebaek, J Weeke, J S Christiansen


Administration of growth hormone (GH) in GH-deficient patients has been reported to cause a variety of perturbations in thyroid function. Reports range from decreased sensitivity of thyrotropin (TSH) to thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation and induction of hypothyroidism to increased energy expenditure and enhanced peripheral thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3) conversion. Some of the diversities may relate to the fact that earlier studies were uncontrolled case reports, which furthermore employed pituitary GH preparations, which may have been contaminated with TSH. A confounding variable in terms of incipient TSH insufficiency in some patients may also have been present. Data from a placebo-controlled crossover study of 4-months GH therapy in GH-deficient adults, some of whom were on ongoing T4 substitution, revealed that the most prominent effect on thyroid function was increased peripheral T4 to T3 conversion without significantly affecting TSH levels or secretion from the thyroid gland. It was furthermore observed that T3 levels during placebo were significantly decreased compared to an untreated healthy control group. Comparable findings have been made in a controlled study of 6-months GH therapy in adult-onset GH-deficient patients. More recent data suggest that these effects prevail after long-term (16 months) therapy. Similar findings have also been reported in healthy subjects receiving pharmacological GH doses. It is likely that this effect is not caused by GH per se inasmuch as reduced T4 to T3 conversion is a common observation in catabolic states with concomitant GH hypersecretion. It remains to be shown whether insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) stimulates peripheral deiodination.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHormone Research
Volume38 Suppl 1
Pages (from-to)63-7
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism/drug effects
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Thyroglobulin/blood
  • Thyroid Gland/drug effects
  • Thyrotropin/blood
  • Thyroxine/blood
  • Time Factors
  • Triiodothyronine/blood


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