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Health Growth Hormones

Growth hormone (GH) is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals.Somatotropin (STH) refers to the growth hormone 1 produced naturally in animals, whereas the term somatropin refers to growth hormone produced by recombinant DNA technology, and is abbreviated "HGH" in humans.

Growth hormone is used as a prescription drug in medicine to treat children's growth disorders and adult growth hormone deficiency.  At this time, HGH is still considered a very complex hormone, and many of its functions are still unknown.

GH has been studied for use in raising livestock more efficiently in industrial agriculture and several efforts have been made to obtain governmental approval to use GH in livestock production. These uses have been controversial. 

Normal functions of GH produced by the body:

Effects of growth hormone on the tissues of the body can generally be described as anabolic (building up). Like most other protein hormones, GH acts by interacting with a specific receptor on the surface of cells.

Increased height during childhood is the most widely known effect of GH. Height appears to be stimulated by at least two mechanisms:

  1. Because polypeptide hormones are not fat-soluble, they cannot penetrate sarcolemma. Thus, GH exerts some of its effects by binding to receptors on target cells, where it activates the MAPK/ERK pathway.Through this mechanism GH directly stimulates division and multiplication of chondrocytes of cartilage.
  2. GH also stimulates, through the JAK-STAT signaling pathway,the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1, formerly known as somatomedin C), a hormone homologous to proinsulin. The liver is a major target organ of GH for this process and is the principal site of IGF-1 production. IGF-1 has growth-stimulating effects on a wide variety of tissues. Additional IGF-1 is generated within target tissues, making it what appears to be both an endocrine and an autocrine/paracrine hormone. IGF-1 also has stimulatory effects on osteoblast and chondrocyte activity to promote bone growth.

In addition to increasing height in children and adolescents, growth hormone has many other effects on the body:

  • Increases calcium retention, and strengthens and increases the mineralization of bone
  • Increases muscle mass through sarcomere hyperplasia
  • Promotes lipolysis
  • Increases protein synthesis
  • Stimulates the growth of all internal organs excluding the brain
  • Plays a role in homeostasis
  • Reduces liver uptake of glucose
  • Promotes gluconeogenesis in the liver
  • Contributes to the maintenance and function of pancreatic islets
  • Stimulates the immune system

Problems caused when the body produces too much GH:

The most common disease of GH excess is a pituitary tumor composed of somatotroph cells of the anterior pituitary. These somatotroph adenomas are benign and grow slowly, gradually producing more and more GH. For years, the principal clinical problems are those of GH excess. Eventually, the adenoma may become large enough to cause headaches, impair vision by pressure on the optic nerves, or cause deficiency of other pituitary hormones by displacement.

Problems caused when the body produces too little GH:

Adults with GHD present with non-specific problems including truncal obesity with a relative decrease in muscle mass and, in many instances, decreased energy and quality of life.

Diagnosis of GH deficiency involves a multiple-step diagnostic process, usually culminating in GH stimulation tests to see if the patient's pituitary gland will release a pulse of GH when provoked by various stimuli.

Side-effects:

Use of GH as a drug has been approved by the FDA for several indications. This means that the drug has acceptable safety in light of its benefits when used in the approved way. Like every drug, there are several side effects caused by GH, some common, some rare. Injection-site reaction is common. More rarely, patients can experience joint swelling, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and an increased risk of diabetes. In some cases, the patient can produce an immune response against GH. GH may also be a risk factor for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Non-medical use in athletic enhancement: