Beyond the androgen receptor: the role of growth hormone secretagogues in the modern management of body composition in hypogonadal males
Male hypogonadism is an increasingly prevalent clinical condition that affects patients’ quality of life and overall health. Obesity and metabolic syndrome can both cause and result from hypogonadism. Although testosterone remains the gold standard for hypogonadism management, its benefits are not always conserved across different populations, especially with regards to changes in body composition. Partially in response to this, growth hormone secretagogues (GHS) have emerged as a potential novel adjunctive therapy for some of the symptoms of hypogonadism, although current data on their clinical efficacy largely remain lacking. The present review examines the existing literature on the use of GHS and explores their potential complementary role in the management of hypogonadal and eugonadal males with metabolic syndrome or subclinical hypogonadism (SH). The GHS that will be discussed include sermorelin, growth hormone-releasing peptides (GHRP)-2, GHRP-6, ibutamoren, and ipamorelin. All are potent GH and IGF-1 stimulators that can significantly improve body composition while ameliorating specific hypogonadal symptoms including fat gain and muscular atrophy. However, a paucity of data examining the clinical effects of these compounds currently limits our understanding of GHS’ role in the treatment of men with hypogonadism, but does open opportunities for future investigation.