Growth hormone/IGF-1 axis longitudinal evaluation in clinically isolated syndrome patients on interferon β-1b therapy: stimulation tests and correlations with clinical and radiological conversion to multiple sclerosis

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Abstract

Background and purpose:

Growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) axis abnormalities in multiple sclerosis (MS) suggest their role in its pathogenesis. Interferon β (IFN-β) efficacy could be mediated also by an increase of IGF-1 levels. A 2-year longitudinal study was performed to estimate the prevalence of GH and/or IGF-1 deficiency in clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) patients and their correlation with conversion to MS in IFN treated patients.

Methods:

Clinical and demographic features of CIS patients were collected before the start of IFN-β-1b. IGF-1 levels and GH response after arginine and GH releasing hormone + arginine stimulation tests were assessed. Clinical and magnetic resonance imaging evaluations were performed at baseline, 1 year and 2 years.

Results:

Thirty CIS patients (24 female) were enrolled. At baseline, four patients (13%) showed a hypothalamic GH deficiency (GHD), whilst no one had a pituitary GHD. Baseline demographic, clinical and radiological data were not related to GHD, whilst IGF-1 levels were inversely related to age (P < 0.001) and GH levels (P = 0.03). GH and IGF-1 serum mean levels were not significantly modified after 1 and 2 years of treatment in the whole group, although 3/4 GHD patients experienced a normalization of GH levels, whilst one dropped out. After 2 years of treatment 13/28 (46%) patients converted to MS. The presence of GHD and GH and IGF-1 levels were not predictive of relapses, new T2 lesions or conversion occurrence.

Conclusions:

Growth hormone/IGF-1 axis function was found to be frequently altered in CIS patients, but this was not related to MS conversion. Patients experienced an improvement of GHD during IFN therapy. Longer follow-up is necessary to assess its impact on disease progression.

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