A rare case of adulthood-onset growth hormone deficiency presenting as sporadic, symptomatic hypoglycemia
Symptomatic hypoglycemia is described in children with severe GH deficiency (GHD), but is rare in adults with GHD. We describe the case of a 62- yr-old man, referred for recurrent hypoglycemic events. He reported a previous head trauma at the age of 20 yr and a diagnosis of reactive hypoglycemia at the age of 50 yr. In the last months, during a period of job-related stress, the hypoglycemic episodes became more frequent and severe (glucose <2.2 mmol/l), finally requiring hospitalization. On admission, the patient was in good general health, with normal renal and hepatic function. During hospitalization, no hypoglycemic episodes were recorded, also during a 72-h fasting test. Biochemical data and abdominal computed tomography (CT) excluded insulinoma. A tumor-induced hypoglycemia was ruled out. The 4-h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) showed an impaired glucose tolerance with a tendency toward asymptomatic hypoglycemia. Hormonal study disclosed low levels of GH (0.2 ng/ml) and IGF-I (51 ng/ml); the response of GH to GHRH plus arginine confirmed a severe GHD (GH peak 2.7 ng/ml). Other pituitary and counterregulation hormones were within the normal range and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the pituitary gland was normal. Replacement therapy with a low dose of rhGH induced an increase of IGF-I up to low-normal values, accompanied by lasting regression of hypoglycemic events. In conclusion, hypoglycemia was the main clinical symptom of isolated adult onset GHD, in the present case. The possible pathogenesis of isolated adult onset GHD and the association of GHD with conditions predisposing to hypoglycemia are considered and discussed.
Key-wordsHypoglycemia adult-onset GHD head trauma rhGH therapy
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