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Background: Somatotropic effects are described in the skin. Indeed, acromegaly is in part clinically recognized by cutaneous coarsening. The actual changes in tensile properties associated with the cutaneous manifestations are largely unknown. Objectives: To study the relationships between the skin tensile properties and the severity of acromegaly as assessed by serum levels of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Patients and Method: Assessments were made in 13 patients with acromegaly treated by somatostatin agonists combined or not with surgery. A total of 39 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects served as controls. Skin tensile properties were measured on the forearm and nape of the neck using a computerized suction device. Results: Significant differences were yielded between the skin tensile properties in patients and normal subjects. The highest IGF-1 values in the patients’ medical records were positively correlated with both skin distensibility and biologic elasticity. The most recent IGF-1 serum levels were negatively correlated with the visco-elastic ratio. No correlations were yielded between any of the biomechanical parameters and GH levels, disease duration and treatment dosages, respectively. Conclusion: The skin in acromegaly appears to be functionally more redundant and elastic than normal skin. The biomechanical changes appear quite different from those observed in other diseases with collagen deposition such as diabetes mellitus and scleroderma.
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