Estrogen has a biphasic effect on growth, stimulatory at low doses but inhibitory at higher doses. Therefore, designing optimal sex hormone replacement treatment in girls with Turner syndrome (TS) who are being treated with growth hormone (GH) involves considering the dose and form of the estrogen as well as the route and timing of its administration. We report here a preliminary analysis of a study to test the concept that an optimal estrogen replacement regimen should consist of estradiol administered in a low dose by a systemic route.
The study population consisted of 9 girls with TS who had been treated with GH for 6 or more months. When the girls were 12 to 15 years old, we added depot estradiol at a monthly intramuscular dose of 0.2 mg and increased the dose at 6-month intervals to 0.4, 0.6, and, in 7 of the girls, 0.8 mg. We compared the results in these subjects with those in a matched group of 37 patients with TS in whom routine estrogen treatment had been started at similar ages and who were treated with a similar course of GH therapy.
The gain in height at 2 years was 2.6 cm greater in those who were treated with depot estradiol than in those who were treated with routine estrogen. The bone age in the patients who were treated with depot estradiol increased in proportion to their chronologic age, suggesting that this difference indicates an increase in their predicted adult height. We conclude that using very low doses of systemic estradiol to induce puberty before the age of 15 years in girls with TS who are treated with GH, instead of using routine estrogen therapy, can result in increased final heights.