Growth hormone (GH) and its anabolic mediator, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), have a critical role in the central nervous system. However, their detailed roles in the adult human brain are not clear. In this study, structural MRIs of 48 patients with GH-secreting pituitary adenoma (GH-PA), 48 sex- and age-matched clinical Non-Functional pituitary adenoma patients (NonFun-PA) and healthy controls (HCs) were assessed using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and region-based morphometry (RBM). Correlation analyses helped determine the relationships between serum hormone levels and brain structure. The whole-brain gray matter volume (GMV) and white matter volume (WMV) significantly increased at the expense of cerebrospinal fluid volume (CSFV) in GH-PA (Bonferroni corrected, p<0.01). The increase in GMV and reduction in CSFV were significantly correlated with serum GH/IGF-1 levels (p<0.05). VBM showed significant correlations of the GMV/WMV alteration pattern between GH-PA vs HCs and GH-PA vs NonFun-PA and widespread bilateral clusters of significantly increased GMV and WMV in GH-PA (pFDR<0.05). RBM showed obviously increased GMV/WMV in 54 of 68 brain regions (p<0.05) in GH-PA compared to HCs. Our results provide imaging evidence that serum GH/IGF-1 contributes to brain growth, which may be a potential treatment option for neurodegenerative disorders and brain injury in humans.
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