5 Facts You May Not Know About Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency (AGHD)

Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency (AGHD) is a rare condition when your body produces less growth hormone (GH) than normal for your age and sex.

AGHD may affect your body systems, including your heart and muscular system, and your mental well-being. More than 50,000 patients are diagnosed with AGHD in the United States, with 6,000 new cases reported each year.2

  1. Growth hormone is a chemical substance that is released from the pituitary gland and maintains healthy balance in muscle, bone and fat tissues; it also impacts brain function.3 Even after you stop growing in childhood, growth hormone is important to support healthy tissue and organs as an adult.3
  2. People who have AGHD can include those who were GH deficient as children and become adults with AGHD, or adults who become GH deficient because of an injury to their hypothalamus or pituitary gland. The most common causes of AGHD are:5
  • Pituitary tumor or treatment of the tumor with surgery or radiation
  • A brain injury, also known as “traumatic brain injury” or TBI
  • Certain inflammatory diseases
  • Hypothalamic-pituitary disease
  • Hemorrhage of the pituitary gland
  1. Some of the signs and symptoms of undiagnosed AGHD are: 4
  • Mood changes such as depression, anxiety, and social isolation2
  • Decrease in muscle and exercise7
  • Impaired concentration2
  • Loss of memory2
  • Osteoporosis1
  • Hair and skin issues 2
  • Fatigue2
  • Sleeping issues2
  • Difficulty with sexual relationships5
  • Weight gain (usually around the stomach) 1
  • Increase in bad cholesterol (LDL) 1
  • Decrease in good cholesterol (HDL) 1
  • Greater sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures1
  1. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. About 75 percent of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI.6 A growing body of research shows that after a TBI, the most impacted hormone is growth hormone.*7 If you have experienced a TBI, which includes a concussion, and have experienced some of the signs and symptoms of AGHD, schedule an appointment with an endocrinologist.
  2. Because AGHD can be difficult to detect, it is important to stimulate the pituitary gland to release growth hormone, which can be done through a growth hormone stimulation test. A growth hormone stimulation test is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of AGHD.

Learn more about AGHD and a stimulation test for diagnosis.

*A study of 28 patients with chronic post-traumatic brain injury.
1 Gupta V. Adult growth hormone deficiency. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2011;15(Suppl 3):S197-S202.
2 Brod M, Pohlman B, Højbjerre L, Adalsteinsson JE, Rasmussen MH. Impact of adult growth hormone deficiency on daily functioning and well-being. BMC Res Notes. 2014;7;813. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-813.
3 Devesa J, Almenglo C, Devesa P. Multiple effects of growth hormone in the body: is it really the hormone for growth? Clin Med Insights Endocrinol Diabetes. 2016;9:47-71.
4 Agrawal V, Garcia JM.  The macimorelin-stimulated growth hormone test for adult growth hormone deficiency diagnosis. Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2014;14:647-54.
5 Bujanova J, Cummings MH. Management of growth hormone deficiency in adults.  Prescriber. 2015;26(23-24):29-33.
6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic Information about Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion Accessed on Nov. 2, 2018 at https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/basics.html
7 Yaseen N. Patterns of pituitary dysfunction three months or more after traumatic brain injury. Avicenna J Med. 2018 Oct-Dec; 8(4): 125–132.
Accessed on Nov. 2, 2018 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6178569/

Acknowledgment: This post is sponsored by Strongbridge Biopharma® as a part of Patient Worthy’s Collaborative Content program. We only publish content that embodies our mission of providing relevant, vetted and valuable information to the rare community.

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