The growth hormone axis in cachectic patients with chronic heart failure: evidence for acquired growth hormone resistance.

  • Stefan D. Anker
  • Claus-Dieter Pfaum
  • Mariantonietta Cicoira
  • Christian J. Strasburger
Part of the Endocrine Updates book series (ENDO, volume 9)


Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a clinical syndrome with an overall poor prognosis, despite the advances in drug treatment. CHF is characterized by left ventricular impairment which leads to secondary changes in other organs with consequent symptoms like dyspnoea, muscular fatigue and exercise intolerance. It has long been recognised that significant body wasting (i.e. weight loss) is also an important feature of severe CHF. This dates back to the time of Hippocrates (about 460 - 370 BC), when he wrote: “The flesh is consumed and becomes water,…., the shoulders, clavicles, chest and thighs melt away. This illness is fatal,…” (1). Like inflammation and fever; weight loss is frequently observed as one of the common patterns of response to sever disease. The presence of general weight loss in patients with CHF has been termedcardiac cachexia.The term cachexia is of Greek origin, derived from the wordskakos(i.e. bad) andhexis(i.e. condition). Cachexia is one of the most visible and devastating consequences of human disease, similarly seen in a number of chronic diseases like cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), thyrotoxicosis and rheumatoid arthritis. In malignant cancer, AIDS and chronic lung disease, cachexia is well known to be a sign of very poor prognosis. In principal it is thought to be related to loss of appetite (anorexia), anemia and metabolic abnormalities, that in turn are influenced by altered hormones and cytokines. Acquired GH resistance is a feature of severe catabolism and malnutrition in conditions of sepsis, surgery and critical illness (reviewed in (2,3). Biochemically it is defined as the presence of high GH but low IGF-I levels. GH resistance, i.e. GH insensitivity, is typical in Laron dwarfism, which results from a GH receptor mutation (4).


Growth Hormone Chronic Heart Failure Chronic Heart Failure Patient Cardiac Cachexia Cachectic Patient 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan D. Anker
    • 1
    • 2
  • Claus-Dieter Pfaum
    • 3
  • Mariantonietta Cicoira
    • 2
  • Christian J. Strasburger
    • 3
  1. 1.Franz-Volhard-KlinikCharité,Campus Berlin-Buch) at Max-Delbrück-Centrum for Molecular MedicineBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Cardiac Medicine, NHLIImperial College School of MedicineLondonUK
  3. 3.3Medizinische KlinikLudwigs Maximilian Universität MünchenMünchenGermany

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