Growth hormone therapy in children with idiopathic short stature–the effect on appetite and appetite-regulating hormones: a pilot study

Michal Yackobovitch-Gavan*, Galia Gat-Yablonski, Biana Shtaif, Shir Hadani, Shiran Abargil, Moshe Phillip, Liora Lazar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To investigate the effect of growth hormone (GH) therapy on appetite-regulating hormones and to examine the association between these hormones and the response to GH, body composition, and resting energy expenditure (REE). Methods: Nine pre-pubertal children with idiopathic short stature underwent a standard meal test before and 4 months following initiation of GH treatment. Ghrelin, GLP-1, leptin, and insulin levels were measured; area under the curve (AUC) was calculated. Height, weight, body composition, REE, and insulin-like growth factor levels were recorded at baseline and after 4 and 12 months. Results: Following 4 months of GH therapy, food intake increased, with increased height-standard deviation score (SDS), weight-SDS, and REE (p < .05). Significant changes in appetite-regulating hormones included a decrease in postprandial AUC ghrelin levels (p = .045) and fasting GLP-1 (p = .038), and an increase in fasting insulin (p = .043). Ghrelin levels before GH treatment were positively correlated with the changes in weight-SDS (fasting: r = .667, p = .05; AUC: r = .788, p = .012) and REE (fasting: r = .866, p = .005; AUC: r = .847, p = .008) following 4 months of GH therapy. Ghrelin AUC at 4 months was positively correlated with the changes in height-SDS (r = .741, p = .022) and fat-free-mass (r = .890, p = .001) at 12 months of GH treatment. Conclusions: The reduction in ghrelin and GLP-1 following GH treatment suggests a role for GH in appetite regulation. Fasting and meal-AUC ghrelin levels may serve as biomarkers for predicting short-term (4 months) changes in weight and longer term (12 months) changes in height following GH treatment. The mechanisms linking GH with changes in appetite-regulating hormones remain to be elucidated. Abbreviations: SDS: standard deviation score; REE: resting energy expenditure; SMT: standard meal test; AUC: area under the curve; ISS: idiopathic short stature; SGA: small for gestational age; FFM: fat-free-mass; FM: fat mass; EER: estimated energy requirements; DRI: dietary reference intakes; IQR: inter-quartile range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalEndocrine Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2019


  • GLP-1
  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • standard meal test


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