Research Paper Volume 12, Issue 2 pp 1377—1396

The role of serum growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 in adult humans brain morphology

Taoyang Yuan1, , Jianyou Ying1, , Lu Jin2, , Chuzhong Li1, , Songbai Gui2, , Zhenye Li2, , Rui Wang1, , Zhentao Zuo3,4,5, , Yazhuo Zhang1,2,6, ,

  • 1 Beijing Neurosurgical Institute, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
  • 2 Department of Neurosurgery, Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
  • 3 State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 4 CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 5 Sino-Danish College, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 6 Beijing Institute for Brain Disorders, Brain Tumour Center, China National Clinical Research Center for Neurological Diseases, Key Laboratory of Central Nervous System Injury Research, Beijing, China

Received: October 14, 2019       Accepted: December 25, 2019       Published: January 22, 2020
How to Cite
This article has been corrected. See Correction. Aging (Albany NY). 2021; 13:22623-22624 .  PMID: 34584016

Copyright: © 2020 Yuan et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Growth hormone (GH) and its anabolic mediator, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), have a critical role in the central nervous system. However, their detailed roles in the adult human brain are not clear. In this study, structural MRIs of 48 patients with GH-secreting pituitary adenoma (GH-PA), 48 sex- and age-matched clinical Non-Functional pituitary adenoma patients (NonFun-PA) and healthy controls (HCs) were assessed using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and region-based morphometry (RBM). Correlation analyses helped determine the relationships between serum hormone levels and brain structure. The whole-brain gray matter volume (GMV) and white matter volume (WMV) significantly increased at the expense of cerebrospinal fluid volume (CSFV) in GH-PA (Bonferroni corrected, p<0.01). The increase in GMV and reduction in CSFV were significantly correlated with serum GH/IGF-1 levels (p<0.05). VBM showed significant correlations of the GMV/WMV alteration pattern between GH-PA vs HCs and GH-PA vs NonFun-PA and widespread bilateral clusters of significantly increased GMV and WMV in GH-PA (pFDR<0.05). RBM showed obviously increased GMV/WMV in 54 of 68 brain regions (p<0.05) in GH-PA compared to HCs. Our results provide imaging evidence that serum GH/IGF-1 contributes to brain growth, which may be a potential treatment option for neurodegenerative disorders and brain injury in humans.


GH: growth hormone; IGF-1: insulin-like growth factor-1; GH-PA: GH-secreting pituitary adenoma; NonFun-PA: non-functional pituitary adenoma; VBM: voxel-based morphometry; RBM: region-based morphometry; nGMV: normalized gray matter volume; nWMV: normalized white matter volume; nCSFV: normalized cerebrospinal fluid volume; TIV: total intracranial volume.