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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2000 Nov;53(5):601-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2265.2000.01141.x.

Sweat secretion rates in growth hormone disorders.

Clinical endocrinology

S B Sneppen, K M Main, A Juul, L M Pedersen, L O Kristensen, N E Skakkebaek, U Feldt-Rasmussen


  1. Department of Endocrinology, Rigshospitalet, The National University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.

PMID: 11106921 DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2265.2000.01141.x


BACKGROUND: While increased sweating is a prominent symptom in patients with active acromegaly, reduced sweating is gaining status as part of the growth hormone deficiency (GHD) syndrome.

DESIGN AND SUBJECTS: Sweat secretion rate (SSR), as measured by pilocarpine iontophoresis represents the maximal capacity for stimulated sweat secretion in a localized skin area. SSR was studied in 37 patients with a history of acromegaly, 20 adult patients with GHD before and during long-term GH substitution of GHD adults, and 58 control subjects.

RESULTS: Acromegaly: Patients with acromegaly had significantly higher SSR than healthy controls (Z-score + 1.9 (+/- 1.1) mean (+/- SD) (P < 0.001)). SSR was increased irrespective of current clinical disease activity. Thus, the SSR Z-scores in 16 clinically inactive patients were + 2.1 (+/- 1.2), in 10 slightly or doubtfully active patients + 1.5 (+/- 0.7) and in 11 active patients + 1.8 (+/- 1.3). There was no correlation between SSR and IGF-I. GHD: Twenty adult patients participated in an 18-month randomised, placebo controlled, double blinded study of physiological dose GH substitution, followed by 18 months of open GH treatment. SSR at baseline was reduced in male but not in female GHD patients. Mean SSR (95% confidence interval) for 11 male patients was 89.0 mg/30 minutes (51.9-126.1) as compared to 133.5 mg/30 minutes (59.2-259.9) (P = 0.01) in 24 male controls, and for 11 female patients 48.2 mg/30 minutes (25.9-70.6) as compared to 49.2 mg/30 minutes (12.6-93. 9) in 34 female controls. GH treatment in physiological substitution doses for up to 36 months had no effect on SSR.

CONCLUSION: We have demonstrated that longstanding GH hypersecretion in patients with acromegaly induces irreversible changes of sweat gland function, with persistently elevated SSR despite treatment and clinical cure. In GHD patients, SSR was reduced in males but not in females, which together with the established gender difference in normal controls emphasises the role of androgen deficiency as a cofactor for reduced sweating in hypopituitary patients. Sweat gland development seems to be more susceptible to lack of hormones in childhood and adolescence than in adulthood, whereas growth hormone excess can modify sweat function later in life.


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