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A Journal on Endocrine System Diseases

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Minerva Endocrinologica 2011 September;36(3):243-55

language: English

Somatopause: state of the art

Di Somma C. 1, Brunelli V. 2, Savanelli M. C. 2, Scarano E. 2, Savastano S. 2, Lombardi G. 2, Colao A. 2

1 IRCCS SDN Fondazione Napoli, Naples, Italy;
2 Department of Molecular and Clinical Endocrinology and Oncology, , Federico II University, Naples, Italy


Aging is associated with decay in the somatotroph axis, that has been considered to cause many of the catabolic sequelae of normal aging. The physiological changes that the human body undergoes during aging are similar to those observed in GH deficiency (GHD). Changes of aging are represented by increased fat mass, increased cardiovascular risk, reduced muscle mass, reduced exercise tolerance, decreased strength and impaired quality of life. Some authors conjecture that the elderly could be GH deficient and would benefit from GH treatment. However, the endocrine pattern of aging is distinct from the decrease of GH/IGF-I levels associated with hypopituitarism, although there is not sufficient evidence for a clear therapeutic role of GH treatment during somatopause. So, further studies are needed to evaluate the real benefit of somatotropic treatment in aging. This review is focused on the effects of the somatopause and summarize the potentials for a therapeutic role of the recombinant human GH (rhGH) or of GH secretagogues in aging.

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