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Concept: Gigantism


Being taller is associated with enhanced longevity, and higher education and earnings. We reanalysed 1472 population-based studies, with measurement of height on more than 18.6 million participants to estimate mean height for people born between 1896 and 1996 in 200 countries. The largest gain in adult height over the past century has occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm (95% credible interval 17.5-22.7) and 16.5 cm (13.3-19.7) taller, respectively. In contrast, there was little change in adult height in some sub-Saharan African countries and in South Asia over the century of analysis. The tallest people over these 100 years are men born in the Netherlands in the last quarter of 20th century, whose average heights surpassed 182.5 cm, and the shortest were women born in Guatemala in 1896 (140.3 cm; 135.8-144.8). The height differential between the tallest and shortest populations was 19-20 cm a century ago, and has remained the same for women and increased for men a century later despite substantial changes in the ranking of countries.

Concepts: Human, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Human height, Netherlands, Cold War, Gigantism


Acromegaly results from the overproduction of growth hormone in adulthood and is characterised by overgrowth of soft tissue and/or bone as well as insulin resistance. There are few data indicating the risk factors associated with this disease in dogs or its clinicopathological features and sequelae. The objective of this retrospective study was to catalogue and assess these aspects of the disease in German shepherd dogs (GSDs) which were found to be over-represented among acromegalic dogs attending two veterinary referral clinics over a period of 7 years. Each acromegalic dog (AD) was compared with two breed/age/sex matched controls. Clinical signs of acromegaly included panting, polyuria/polydipsia, widened interdental spaces, weakness, inspiratory stridor, macroglossia, weight gain, redundant skin folds, thick coat, exophthalmos and mammary masses. Serum alkaline phosphatase, creatine-kinase, glucose, triglyceride, phosphate ion, and ‘calcium per phosphate product’ concentrations were significantly higher in acromegalic animals while haemoglobin concentration, blood urea nitrogen, sodium and chloride ion concentrations, and urinary specific gravity, osmolality and fractional excretion of phosphate were significantly lower. Although, in the majority of cases clinicopathological abnormalities resolved following ovariohysterectomy, in one dog, acromegalic signs abated and insulin-like growth factor-1 concentrations normalised only following the surgical excision of mammary tumours carried out 2 months after ovariohysterectomy. The findings of this study indicate that GSDs are predisposed to the development of acromegaly with a suspected inherited susceptibility.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Metabolism, Blood, Blood urea nitrogen, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Growth hormone, Gigantism, German Shepherd Dog


This study investigated the association between the frequency of growth hormone receptor (GHR) exon 3 polymorphism (exon 3 deletion; d3-GHR) and metabolic factors in patients with acromegaly in Korea.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Hormone, Growth hormone, Peptide hormone, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Growth hormone receptor, Gigantism


The Dutch are the tallest people on earth. Over the last 200 years, they have grown 20 cm in height: a rapid rate of increase that points to environmental causes. This secular trend in height is echoed across all Western populations, but came to an end, or at least levelled off, much earlier than in The Netherlands. One possibility, then, is that natural selection acted congruently with these environmentally induced changes to further promote tall stature among the people of the lowlands. Using data from the LifeLines study, which follows a large sample of the population of the north of The Netherlands (n = 94 516), we examined how height was related to measures of reproductive success (as a proxy for fitness). Across three decades (1935-1967), height was consistently related to reproductive output (number of children born and number of surviving children), favouring taller men and average height women. This was despite a later age at first birth for taller individuals. Furthermore, even in this low-mortality population, taller women experienced higher child survival, which contributed positively to their increased reproductive success. Thus, natural selection in addition to good environmental conditions may help explain why the Dutch are so tall.

Concepts: Human, Natural selection, Human height, Netherlands, Gigantism, Heightism


In the immediate postoperative period following resection of growth hormone (GH)-secreting pituitary tumors, serum concentrations of GH have limited ability to predict remission of acromegaly. Since many actions of GH actions are mediated by insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-I), we aimed to determine the rates of fall of IGF-I during 72 h after surgical resection of pituitary tumors.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Pituitary gland, Pituitary adenoma, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Growth hormone, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Endocrine gland, Gigantism


We investigated the incidence of stroke and stroke subtypes in a population-based cohort of patients in France treated with growth hormone (GH) for short stature in childhood.

Concepts: Immune system, Growth hormone, Turner syndrome, Endocrine gland, Growth hormone deficiency, Coming of age, Gigantism, Idiopathic short stature


The advancement of “human growth hormone (hGH)-for-height” - increasing height attainment in children short for reasons other than GH deficiency - arose from intuitive, deep-seated assumptions about the disability of short stature, its improvement with hGH-mediated height gain, and the safety of escalating dosages of hGH in healthy children. Evidence challenging these assumptions now strengthens criticism of hGH-for-height as cosmetic endocrinology. To counter this characterization, collective acceptance of guidelines is needed that advise nontreatment of the vast majority of short children, support strategies that minimize treatment duration and dosage, and restrain enhancement of normal adult stature. Through a clinical case analysis, ethical issues underlying these recommendations are explored. These include duties to provide informed assent and re-assent, protect children from unnecessary treatment, consider fairness to nontreated children, and allocate healthcare resources responsibly. Informed assent for hGH-for-height should ensure awareness of modest, variable height gain expectations, limited evidence for psychosocial benefit, ongoing studies for potential posttreatment adverse effects, and options for less expensive/invasive approaches, including nontreatment and counseling. Approaching growth pro-motion in this way fosters therapeutic restraint, resists the al lure of enhancement therapy, and minimizes contributions to society’s perception that to be taller is to be better.

Concepts: Immune system, Hypothalamus, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Growth hormone, Growth hormone deficiency, Gigantism, Idiopathic short stature


Acromegalic cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of morbidity and all-cause mortality in patients with acromegaly. Though acromegaly is a rare condition, the associated derangements are vast and severe. Stemming from an increase in circulating growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 levels (IGF-1), acromegalic cardiomyopathy results in pathological changes in myocyte growth and structure, cardiac contractility, and vascular function. These molecular changes manifest commonly as biventricular hypertrophy, diastolic and systolic dysfunction, and valvular regurgitation. Early recognition of the condition is paramount, though the insidious progression of the disease commonly results in a late diagnosis. Biochemical testing, based on IGF-1 measurements, is the gold standard of diagnosis. Management should be centered on normalizing serum levels of both IGF-1 and GH. Transsphenoidal resection remains the most cost-effective and permanent treatment for acromegaly, though medical therapy possesses benefit for those who are not surgical candidates. Ultimately, achieving control of hormone levels results in a severe reduction in mortality rate, underscoring the importance of early recognition and treatment.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Epidemiology, Cardiology, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Growth hormone, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Gigantism


This article reviews evaluation of short stature in childhood and options for management of idiopathic cases (e.g., familial short stature or constitutional delay of growth and puberty), including observation and reassurance, growth hormone treatment, and low-dose oral oxandrolone in boys.

Concepts: Immune system, Hypothalamus, Growth hormone, Anabolic steroid, Growth hormone deficiency, Gigantism, Idiopathic short stature, Short stature


Provocative growth hormone (GH) stimulation testing is used to evaluate short stature and growth failure in children. Agents commonly used for testing include clonidine, arginine and glucagon. While stimulation testing is generally considered safe, gross hematuria has been described as a rare idiopathic complication of GH stimulation testing. This study was designed to estimate the incidence of both microscopic and macroscopic hematuria following GH testing with different provocative agents.

Concepts: Immune system, Growth hormone, Hematuria, Arginine, Somatostatin, Endocrine gland, Gigantism, Idiopathic short stature