Recombinant growth hormone improves sweat gland function in adults with growth hormone deficiency

W. Hasan, Pmg Bouloux, T. Cowen, P. Coskeran, E. Elliot, P. S. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have previously demonstrated that reduced sweating is coincident with a decrease in the functional innervation of eccrine sweat glands in adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD). The aim of this study was to examine the effect of treatment with recombinant human growth hormone (GH) for 6-12 months on the morphology, innervation and function of sweat glands. Twenty-one patients with GHD and twelve control individuals were studied. Forearm skin biopsies were processed for histochemistry and immunohistochemistry with acetylcholinesterase (AChE), the neuropeptide vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and the general neuronal marker protein gene product 9.5 (PGP). Acinar size and periacinar innervation of sweat glands were measured by image analysis. Sweat production was measured following pilocarpine iontophoresis. The rate of sweating was initially reduced in patients with GHD, but increased by 15% following treatment with GH. The rate of sweating following GH treatment was not significantly different from the rate in controls; in female patients with GHD, the rate of sweating increased by 54% (analysis of variance, P < 0.003). AChE histochemical staining (AChE-HS) of skin biopsies from patients with GHD increased by 61% (P < 0.001) following GH treatment, to reach control values; in female patients with GHD, the increase in AChE-HS was 71% (P < 0.001). VIP-immunoreactivity (VIP-IR) increased by 30% after GH treatment in patients with GHD, again reaching control values. In patients with GHD, PGP-IR did not change significantly following GH treatment. In conclusion, GH treatment of patients with GHD tends to normalize sweat gland function via sympathetic innervation. This effect is more marked in females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130
Number of pages1
JournalEndocrinology and Metabolism, Supplement
Issue numberSUPPL. A
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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