Biochemical growth hormone deficiency is prevalent among human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients, but if this condition is clinically relevant remains challenging. The aim is to prospectively compare the growth hormone deficiency/insulin-like growth factor-1 status of 71 human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients with impaired growth hormone response to growth hormone releasing hormone + Arginine with that of 65 hypopituitary patients affected by a true growth hormone deficiency secondary to pituitary disease. The main outcomes were: basal serum growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3, growth hormone peak and area under the curve after growth hormone response to growth hormone releasing hormone + Arginine test, body mass index, waist and hip circumference, and body composition by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Insulin-like growth factor-1 binding protein 3, basal growth hormone (p < 0.005), growth hormone peak and area under the curve after growth hormone response to growth hormone releasing hormone + Arginine, waist to hip ratio, insulin-like growth factor-1, fasting glucose, insulin, and triglycerides (p < 0.0001) were lower in hypopituitary than human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients. Total and trunk fat mass by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry were higher in hypopituitary than in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients (p < 0.0001). In all the patients total body fat was associated with both growth hormone peak and area under the curve at stepwise linear regression analysis. The degree of growth hormone deficiency is more severe in hypopituitary than in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients, suggesting that the function of growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 axis is partially rescued in the latter thanks to a preserved pituitary secretory reserve. Data from the current study suggest that human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients with peak growth hormone < 9 mg/L may have partial growth hormone deficiency and clinicians should be cautious before prescribing recombinant human growth hormone replacement treatment to patients living with human immunodeficiency virus.
Pituitary growth hormone (GH) secretion is partially rescued in HIV-infected patients with GH deficiency (GHD) compared to hypopituitary patients.