Human Growth Hormone Deficiency May Play a Role in Mild TBI Problems

Dr. Adriana G. Ioachimescu of Emory University, Atlanta presented a paper in September 2012 at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society concerning the possible role of human growth hormone (HGH) deficiency in causing some problems for TBI suvivors. The subjects of her pilot study were 20 men (mean age, 34 years) with mild TBI resulting from military combat which had been sustained an average of 44 months earlier. Dr. Ioachimescu observed that all of the subjects had normal thyroid status and cortisol production, but 5 of them (25%) had a deficiency in their production of HGH.

While all 20 subjects with mild TBI performed similarly on measures of memory, learning, and simple and complex attention, the 5 subjects with deficient HGH did worse on tests of executive dysfunction, especially those relating to measures of inhibitory control and self-monitoring. The GH deficient soldiers show greater levels of depression and lower quality of life than the others even though they did not have a higher incidence of PTSD.

Was the deficiency of HGH present before the 5 veterans sustained their mild TBI or did it result from the MTBI? Either way the presence of deficient HGH in a person with MTBI appears to produce a worse outcome with regard to some executive functions and depressed mood. This suggests the possibility that treating MTBI survivors with poor executive function and/or depression using HGH may improve their condition. Futher research is needed.

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