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Does low-dose growth hormone therapy improve the body composition of patients infected with HIV?


Use of highly active antiretroviral therapy in patients infected with HIV can lead to lipodystrophy, a condition characterized by changes in body-fat distribution. In addition, infected individuals often exhibit relative growth hormone (GH) deficiency. Treatment with supraphysiological levels of GH improves body composition in these patients, but is associated with adverse effects. In this Practice Point commentary, we discuss an 18-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of low-dose GH therapy in 56 HIV-positive adults with lipodystrophy and relative GH deficiency. Lo et al. found that administration of low-dose GH (mean 0.33 mg daily) led to improvements in body composition (e.g. visceral adipose-tissue area), diastolic blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Furthermore, this treatment regimen was not associated with an increased incidence of adverse events compared with placebo. Here, we discuss the implications of the findings of Lo et al., and describe additional strategies that might be used to treat lipodystrophy in HIV-positive individuals.

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Correspondence to Michael O Thorner.

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Competing interests

Michael O Thorner holds a patent for treatment of sarcopenia with growth hormone secretagogues (US Patent 7442706: methods for treating sarcopenia with growth hormone secretogogue).

Ralf Nass declared no competing interests.

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Nass, R., Thorner, M. Does low-dose growth hormone therapy improve the body composition of patients infected with HIV?. Nat Rev Endocrinol 5, 142–143 (2009).

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