Central reassessment of GH concentrations measured at local treatment centers in children with impaired growth: Consequences for patient management

Berthold P. Hauffa*, Nils Lehmann, Markus Bettendorf, Otto Mehls, Helmuth Günther Dörr, Carl Joachim Partsch, Hans P. Schwarz, Nikolaus Stahnke, Heinz Steinkamp, Elfriede Said, Sabine Sander, Michael B. Banke, W. Andler, R. Arndt, R. Böhles, S. Eisberg, O. Hiort, E. Korsch, M. Mix, K. MohnikeM. Morlot, R. Mühlenberg, E. Schönau, G. Simic-Schleicher, K. P. Ullrich, T. van Meegen-Freund, Ch Vogel, A. Klinghammer

*Corresponding author for this work
36 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: GH deficiency is diagnosed in children if serum GH fails to rise above a predefined cutoff value in response to at least two stimuli. Diagnostic decisions based on this testing are highly variable between centers and depend on the GH assays used. Considering the large spectrum of commercially available GH assays, we wanted to evaluate the agreement between assays, and to test whether assay-related variability of diagnostic decisions could be reduced by reassessment of peak GH concentrations in a reference center. Design: We reanalysed 699 peak GH serum samples obtained after GH testing of 382 children and adolescents from 19 centers using three reference assays and compared these results with those obtained with the local assays. A subgroup of 132 patients tested with the combination of insulin hypoglycemia test and arginine test was evaluated for changes in the assignment to the diagnostic group of GH deficiency. Results: The mean difference between methods ranged from 5.4 to 10.3 mU/l, slopes of the regression lines from 1.28 to 1.65. Significant non-linearity was detected in five of six assay comparisons, indicating that most assay results cannot be interconverted by the use of a factor. Overall agreement between reference and local assays was only moderate. Significant changes in diagnostic assignment occurred when different assays were used on the same patient (P < 0.0001 -P < 0.0023). Based on GH remeasurement by one reference assay, 36 of 132 patients were categorized differently, with 35 patients changing into the GH-deficient group. Similar findings were obtained with the other reference assays. Conclusions: To decrease variability in GH testing related to assays and cutoff values, we recommend nationwide reassessment of GH peak sera in reference centers. Decisions to treat GH deficiency should incorporate the reference center results.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)291-297
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 03.2004

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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