How are growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 reported as markers for drug effectiveness in clinical acromegaly research? A comprehensive methodologic review

Michiel J. Van Esdonk, Eline J. M. Van Zutphen, Ferdinand Roelfsema, Alberto M. Pereira, Piet H. Van Der Graaf, Nienke R. Biermasz, Jasper Stevens, Jacobus Burggraaf

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Objective. In rare disease research, most randomized prospective clinical trials can only use limited number of patients and are comprised of highly heterogeneous populations. Therefore, it is crucial to report the results in such a manner that it allows for comparison of treatment effectiveness and biochemical control between studies. The aim of this review was to investigate the current methods that are being applied to measure and report growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) as markers for drug effectiveness in clinical acromegaly research.

Search strategy. A systematic search of recent prospective and retrospective studies, published between 2012 and 2017, that studied the effects of somatostatin analogues or dopamine agonists in acromegaly patients was performed. The markers of interest were GH, IGF-1, and the suppression of GH after an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Additionally, the use of pharmacokinetic (PK) measurements in these studies was analyzed. The sampling design, cut-off for biochemical control, reported units, and used summary statistics were summarized.

Results. A total of 49 articles were selected out of the 263 screened abstracts. IGF-1 concentrations were measured in all 49 studies, GH in 45 studies, and an OGTT was performed in 11 studies. A wide range of different cut-off values and sampling designs were used to determine biochemical control in acromegaly patients. The summary statistics were reported in various ways, with the percentage of biochemical control most frequently used. Nine studies sampled the PK at one or more time points. Non-compartmental analyses were commonly performed on the available PK data.

Conclusions. The way GH and IGF-1 are measured and reported in acromegaly research varies considerably. A consensus on how to report study results would enable better comparisons between studies, thereby improving evidence based decision making to optimize treatment in acromegaly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-322
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2018


  • Acromegaly
  • Growth hormone
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • IGF-1
  • review

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