Stimulation of growth-hormone release with clonidine does not distinguish individual cases of idiopathic Parkinson's disease from those with striatonigral degeneration

E. Strijks, M. van't Hof, F. Sweep, J. Lenders, W. Oyen and M. Horstink

Dept. of Neurology, University Medical Center, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Sep, 2002



Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) and idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD) can be difficult to distinguish. There is an ongoing debate about the diagnostic value of the growth-hormone response to clonidine (CGH-test) in PD and MSA. We investigated whether the CGH-test can identify individual patients in the early stages of PD (n = 21) and Striatonigral Degeneration (SND, n = 11), a particular variety of MSA. Patients were diagnosed on the basis of clinical criteria and IBZM-SPECT. Clonidine induced a greater total serum growth-hormone production in PD than in SND (p = 0.01). However, taking the difference in prevalence of PD and SND into account, and because of the low likelihood ratios of the test, an increase of GH after clonidine increases the pre-test probability for PD by about only 5 \%, while an absent response of GH also increases the pre-test probability for SND by about 5 \%. We conclude that the CGH-test discriminates between groups of patients with PD and SND, but has little practical diagnostic value for identifying individual patients.