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Growth Hormone Fights HIV Fat Syndrome

Growth Hormone Combats Disfiguring Side Effect of Treatment


"No one has done this before," he tells WebMD. "We gave a substance that stimulates the body to make its own growth hormone, rather than giving growth hormone itself, as it's safer, more natural.

"We now have proof that augmenting low growth hormone levels in this way has the potential to reverse the abnormal body composition that characterizes HIV lipodystrophy," Grinspoon says.

In the study, 31 men with HIV lipodystrophy injected themselves twice daily with either growth hormone-releasing hormone or placebo for 12 weeks.

Looking and Feeling Better

"As expected, levels of growth hormone significantly increased in the men who received the treatment," Grinspoon says. "But more importantly, there was a redistribution of fat away from the abdomen -- and increases in fat in the legs and arms.

"The redistribution of fat away from the abdomen reflects a change toward a more healthy heart health profile," Grinspoon says.

Also, patients who received the treatment said they thought they looked better and "they felt better about themselves," he says.

Jose Luis, MD, a clinician at Ramon y Cajal Hospital in Madrid, Spain, who presented a study at the meeting on the psychological effects of HIV lipodystrophy, praised the study.

"There are many psychological repercussions to the condition, including social distress and anxiety," he tells WebMD. "So treatments that help patients feel better have a host of benefits."

Luis said he hopes that with longer treatment, the substance will also help to fill out the gaunt faces of many sufferers. "Facial [wasting] has been shown to be one of the most distressing aspects of the condition, so hopefully this treatment can help that too."

Grinspoon says the next step is a larger, longer study.

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