1. The relationship of lean body mass, plasma insulin concentration and leucocyte active sodium transport with basal metabolic rate was investigated in 24 adults with growth hormone deficiency before and after treatment with recombinant human growth hormone and in 10 patients with untreated acromegaly.
2. Based on total-body potassium determined by whole-body 40K counting, patients with acromegaly had increased lean body mass, whereas lack of growth hormone was associated with decreased lean body mass.
3. By indirect calorimetry, patients with acromegaly had increased basal metabolic rates and patients with growth hormone deficiency had decreased values when expressed as percentages of values predicted from the WHO/FAO/UNU equations. Basal metabolic rate expressed in terms of lean body mass was similar in acromegaly and growth hormone deficiency, but was higher than normal in both patient groups.
4. The leucocyte ouabain-sensitive sodium efflux rate constant was decreased in both patients with acromegaly and patients with growth hormone deficiency, and there was no correlation with basal energy expenditure, fasting plasma insulin level or serum growth hormone level.
5. There was no increase in the sodium efflux rate constant in patients with growth hormone deficiency after 1 month on treatment with recombinant human growth hormone.
6. Apparent differences in basal metabolic rate in growth hormone deficiency and acromegaly are due to changes in lean body mass. Both adults with growth hormone deficiency and patients with acromegaly have increased energy expenditure, probably owing to changes in fuel metabolism which are not reflected in the leucocyte sodium pump activity.