The objective of this study was to investigate tolerability and possible neurotrophic effects of growth hormone (GH) in treatment of multiple system atrophy (MSA). In this double-blind pilot study, MSA patients were randomized to recombinant human growth hormone (r-hGH, n = 22), 1 mg every second day (6 months) followed by alternating daily injections of 1 mg and 0.5 mg (6 months), or matched placebo (n = 21). Safety analysis demonstrated no obvious between-group differences. In both groups, there was progressive worsening of Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale total score, which tended to be less in r-hGH-treated patients (12.9% at 6 months, 25.3% at 12 months) than in placebo (17.0% and 35.7%). Similarly, there was a trend to less worsening in Unified MSA Rating Scale total score with r-hGH (13.2% and 21.2%) than with placebo (21.1% and 36.5%). Cardiovascular reflex autonomic testing also tended to show less deterioration with r-hGH than with placebo at 12 months. However, 95% CI did not indicate treatment differences for any efficacy measures. In conclusion, r-hGH administration in MSA patients for up to 1 year appears safe and might influence disease symptoms, signs and, possibly, progression. The results support further studies utilizing higher doses in more patients. © 2007 Movement Disorder Society.
2007. Vol. 22, no 8, 1138-1144 p.