August 1988

Effects of Low-Dose Cranial Radiation on Growth Hormone Secretory Dynamics and Hypothalamic-Pituitary Function

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles and the Department of Pediatrics, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(8):847-852. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150080053022

• Spontaneous growth hormone (GH) secretory dynamics and hypothalamic-pituitary function were studied in 16 long-term survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia who were aged 9 to 15½ years and had been treated with prophylactic central nervous system radiation and combined chemotherapy. At the time of study, the mean height was −1.5 SD score below the mean, less than genetic potential, and significantly less than the mean pretreatment height of −0.25 SD score. Height velocity was subnormal for age and sexual stage in all patients. Two patients had compensated hypothyroidism, and four had evidence of gonadal failure. In 11 patients, the peak GH level after two provocative tests was below 10 μg/L, which was consistent with GH deficiency. In ten of 13 patients tested, spontaneous GH secretion determined by a 24-hour GH concentration (GHC), GH pulse amplitude, frequency of GH pulses greater than or equal to 5 μg/L, and GH peak during wake and sleep hours was significantly less than in normal height controls. Although in three pubertal patients the 24-hour GHC was within normal limits, the GHC during sleep hours, GH pulse amplitude during 24 hours and sleep hours, and peak GH during wake hours were significantly less than in normal height controls. In all pubertal and in two of the prepubertal patients, the somatomedin C (SmC) level was significantly less than in controls. The 24-hour GHC correlated well with the GHC during sleep, peak-stimulated GH level, gonadal steroid level, and the SmC level, but not with height velocity, dose of radiation, or age at radiation. A significant increase in height velocity and the SmC level was noted in all patients treated with GH. These results indicate that GH deficiency occurs after 18 to 24 Gy of cranial radiation and that the puberty-associated growth spurt may mask the decline in height velocity owing to GH deficiency. In some patients treated with cranial radiation, a subtle dysregulation in spontaneous GH secretion may exist despite a normal GH response to provocative testing.

(AJDC 1988;142:847-852)