Growth failure is an important consequence of chronic liver disease in childhood. Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), which is synthesized and released by the liver, plays an important role as a growth regulator in humans. We examined the growth hormone (GH)/IGF-I axis before and after orthotopic liver transplantation (LT) in 14 children aged between 2 and 11 years (mean 5.6 ± 1.1 years). Pre-transplantation serum GH levels (7.5 ± 1.2 ng/ml) were significantly higher (P < 0.001) compared with controls (5 ± 0.5 ng/ml). However, post-transplantation levels (1.8 ± 0.8 ng/ml) did not differ from those in the control group. Serum IGF-I levels showed a statistically significant increase after LT (20.1 ± 9.4 vs 190 ± 66.2 ng/ml; P < 0.001) and became indistinguishable from the levels in the control group (180 ± 96 ng/ml). In comparison with pre-transplantation data (z - 2.70), there was an increase in height 4 years postoperatively (z - 1.68). Catch-up growth was highly significant, in particular during the 1st year after LT (z -1.58 ± 1.63 vs 2.59 ± 5.29; P < 0.01). We conclude that a GH resistance state found in patients with severe chronic liver disease reverted following LT. Given that IGF-I depends upon liver function, this could be one of the main factors in the significant catch-up growth in pediatric LT recipients.
- Chronic liver disease
- Growth failure
- Growth hormone
- Insulin-like growth factor-I
- Orthotopic liver transplantation