Four families with growth hormone (GH) deficiency, either isolated or with other pituitary hormonal deficits are described. Members of each underwent pharmacological testing for GH secretion and infusions of GH releasing hormone (GHRH) to determine the locus of the defect in GH secretion. In addition, we have extracted DNA from white blood cells to characterize the GHRH and GH genes. AH members tested had the normal complement of GH and GHRH genes. Four generations of one family with isolated GH deficiency, autosomal dominant were studied. The younger members showed minimal GH responsiveness to a single infusion of GHRH. However, the older members did not respond even after 30 doses of GHRH given intravenously every 3 h. Two members of a family with the autosomal recessive type of isolated GH deficiency had large GH increases after GHRH infusion. Thus in these families the GH secretory defect lies within the hypothalamus. Members of two families with pituitary deficiency (GH and other tropic hormones) of the autosomal recessive type had variable responses to GHRH and varying amounts of pituitary tissue seen on high resolution CT scans. Although it is not possible to delineate the precise location of the secretory defects in these latter two families, a hypothalamic defect is probable based on the responses to multiple trophic stimuli. Heterogeneity of structure and function exists within and between families with isolated GH deficiency and within and among families with pituitary deficiency. It is from the study of such families in which all members presumably have the same underlying defect that one can more readily decide on a pathogenetic mechanism.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health