Inasmuch as growth hormone is known to interact with the immune system, we studied immune functions including immunoglobulins, cell surface markers, mitogen responses, and polymorphonuclear cell function in eight children with growth hormone deficiency, ages 1 to 17 years, before and during treatment with human growth hormone for 12 to 16 months. Before treatment, immune functions were normal in all children. Treatment with human growth hormone did not significantly affect serum immunoglobulins, polymorphonuclear cell function, or percent T cells. However, percent B cells decreased to subnormal levels in seven of seven patients. T helper/suppressor ratios, decreased in all patients, to subnormal values in seven of eight patients; and mitogen responses decreased to below normal in all. The decline of percent B cells was transient in all patients, of T helper/suppressor ratios in seven of eight, and mitogen responses in five of eight patients. In vitro incubation of lymphocytes with growth hormone resulted in no changes in cell surface markers or mitogen responses. Although the depression of immune functions resulted in no increased rate of infections during the observation period, we do not know the possible effects of prolonged treatment and therefore caution, against the indiscriminate use of human growth hormone. The effects of biosynthetically obtained growth hormone on immune function remain to be determined.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health