Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism vol:90 issue:6 pages:3435-9
A minority of children born small for gestational age (SGA) maintain a slow weight gain and a short stature (SS). At the other end of the spectrum are SGA children who show rapid postnatal weight gain and catch-up growth; these subjects may develop hyperinsulinemia, exaggerated adrenarche with precocious pubarche (PP), and an associated proinflammatory state with raised IL-6 and reduced adiponectin levels. Metformin therapy in SGA-PP girls attenuates the hyperinsulinemia, the adrenal androgen excess, and the proinflammatory state. In contrast, GH therapy in SGA-SS children promotes height gain but may induce hyperinsulinemia. Both groups are associated with increased risk markers for future cardiovascular disease. Therefore, we studied markers of inflammation in both SGA subpopulations at baseline and after their respectively corrective therapies. SGA-PP girls (n = 33; mean age, 8 yr; body mass index, 18.5 kg/m(2)) were randomized to remain untreated or to receive metformin (425 mg/d) for 6 months. SGA-SS children (n = 29; mean age, 7 yr; body mass index, 14.7 kg/m(2)) were randomly assigned to remain untreated or to receive GH (60 mug/kg/d). In SGA-PP girls, the mean neutrophil count (4.0 x 1000/mm(3)) was more than 2 sd above the mean reference level (2.8 x 1000/mm(3), P < 0.001); this remained stable over 6 months in untreated girls but dropped in metformin-treated girls by -1.1 x 1000/mm(3) (P = 0.002). In SGA-SS children, neutrophil counts were also higher at baseline (3.3 x 1000/mm(3), P < 0.01). This remained stable in untreated children but rose in GH-treated children by +1.1 x 1000/mm(3) (P = 0.004). GH-treated children also showed a rise in circulating IL-6 and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate levels and a fall in adiponectin levels. In conclusion, neutrophil counts were elevated in SGA children. In SGA girls with PP, the present results corroborate the antiinflammatory benefits of metformin therapy. In contrast, high-dose GH therapy in short SGA children may increase neutrophil counts and lead to a less favorable adipocytokine profile. Future studies with combined GH plus metformin treatment in short SGA children may clarify whether insulin resistance is a mechanism linking GH therapy to markers of inflammation.