Adult-onset growth hormone deficiency (AGHD) is usually the last deficiency to be substituted in hypopituitarism. In children with documented GH deficiency, treatment without delay is crucial for achieving optimal effects on growth and development. In adults, it is not known whether a delay in treatment initiation influences biochemical response and the favourable physiological effects resulting from GH replacement therapy (GHRT).
A total of 1085 GH-deficient adults from KIMS (Pfizer International Metabolic Database) were included, adequately replaced with all pituitary hormones except for GH at baseline. Patients were stratified by sex and age (20–50 years and ≥50 years) and subsequently divided into two groups below and above the median duration of unsubstituted AGHD for that subgroup. The median time of unsubstituted GHD for the total cohort was 2.53 years (P5 = 0.35, P95 = 24.42).
Beneficial effects of 4 years of GHRT were observed on lipids and quality of life in all subgroups. A decrease in waist circumference was observed only in older (>50 years) patients. There was no difference in IGF-I SDS and in GH dose required to normalize IGF-I in patients with a duration of unsubstituted AGHD above or below the median. No relevant differences were found between the groups for anthropometric measures, cardiovascular risk factors and quality of life scores.
In contrast to GHD in children and adolescents, no difference could be established in treatment response between early or late initiation of GHRT in AGHD in terms of required GH dose, IGF-I, metabolic health and quality of life.