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Controversy about Treatment of Growth Hormone–Deficient Adults: A Commentary

Lawrence A. Frohman, MD
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University of Illinois at Chicago; Chicago, IL 60612

Requests for Single Reprints: Lawrence A. Frohman, MD, University of Illinois at Chicago, Section of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine (MC-640), 1819 West Polk Street, Chicago, IL 60612-7343; e-mail, Frohman@uic.edu.

Ann Intern Med. 2002;137(3):202-204. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-137-3-200208060-00013
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Growth hormone deficiency was first described in children with growth retardation, and for three decades, the therapeutic use of growth hormone was restricted to promoting linear growth. Two developments—the appearance of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and the availability of recombinant human growth hormone—ended the use of human pituitary-derived growth hormone therapy and opened the possibility of using growth hormone in growth hormone–deficient adults. For the past 13 years, such use has been a reality. As with many other areas of medicine, the introduction of a new therapy is associated with initial excitement, followed by a period of careful analysis of the results of therapy and, not infrequently, a degree of controversy about its benefits. Growth hormone is no exception to this paradigm, and the salient points of growth hormone replacement in adults have been reviewed by several authors (13). In addition, the specificity of the manifestations of the disorder to which therapy is directed—adult growth hormone deficiency—has been questioned.

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