Growth hormone, a.k.a. human growth hormone or somatropin, is made by the anterior pituitary gland. It is one of the most vital hormones the body produces. It is responsible for governing many metabolic processes, such as growth, reproduction, and metabolism.
In this article, let’s explore what GH does, how it works, and its potential benefits and risks.
Definition of Growth Hormone
Growth Hormone (GH) is a hormone released by the pituitary gland. It stimulates the growth of tissues and organs, and affects hundreds of cellular functions, such as metabolism, protein synthesis, cell repair, muscle growth, and more!
It also has a big role in human health, such as cardiac health, diabetes management, and cholesterol regulation. Plus, it contributes to psychological well-being. It impacts moods and emotions, sleep quality, and cognitive functions like memory recall and problem solving.
GH levels are highest during childhood. During adulthood, the hormone’s level begins to decline. It doesn’t have a predictable pattern of secretion, so it’s sometimes difficult for doctors to diagnose issues associated with GH or its production. A simple blood test can usually diagnose these problems accurately.
Types of Growth Hormone
Growth hormone, or somatotropin, is a polypeptide secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. It encourages bone and muscle growth throughout the body. This has an effect on metabolism and body composition. The types of growth hormones vary from recombinant human growth hormone (rHGH) to biosynthetic forms.
- Recombinant Human Growth Hormone (rHGH): Clinically developed form made in a lab. DNA strands spliced together to produce proteins in bacterial cultures. Collected and made into medications for injection into humans for treatments.
- Synthetic Variant: Synthetically created forms of growth hormones. Offer similar benefits as rHGH. Potent than other forms on the market. Examples include Serostim, Humatrope, Genotropin, Norditropin, and Nutropin AQ.
- Biosynthetic Variants: Created through biotechnology. Modified human cell cultures mutated or induced with genetic alterations. Enable production of biologically active hormones identical to those naturally produced. Mimic many structures of rHGH and aid in faster absorption. Examples include Omnitrope, Saizen, Zomacton, LR3 IGF-1, Desacetylmelatonin, and Nutropin AQ Nordiflex/Norditropin SimpleXxJust.
Growth hormone (GH) is a peptide hormone. It is created by the pituitary gland. GH stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration in humans and other animals. It also regulates and keeps other hormones such as insulin and thyroid, in check.
Let’s now analyze the physiological effects of GH.
Effects on Growth and Development
Growth hormone (GH) is a must-have for normal growth and development – especially during childhood and adolescence. It encourages the production of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1). This is what grows bones, muscles, and other tissues. With GH deficiency, many body processes are disturbed.
In children with GH deficiency, signs of growth problems usually start appearing after two years old. These can include delayed tooth eruption, slow bone growth, short height, and weight gain (despite poor appetite). After beginning treatment, there can be a remarkable catch-up in physical development – sometimes within a month.
In adults with hypopituitarism or GH deficiency due to age, GH therapy can reverse a lot of age-related changes. However, it is important to note that this therapy does not make you look or feel younger than your true age. Benefits include:
- Increased muscle mass and strength;
- Higher bone density;
- Lower cholesterol;
- Improved skin elasticity;
- Better sleep patterns;
- More energy;
- Better concentration and mood;
- Decreased body fat;
- Enhanced exercise performance; and
- Lower cardiovascular risk factors, like high blood pressure.
Effects on Metabolism and Body Composition
Growth hormone (GH) is known for its effect on metabolism and body composition. It affects how lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins are used. It also helps with the maintenance and growth of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Plus, it impacts organ size.
Studies show GH can increase muscle mass by stimulating protein synthesis in cells. It decreases fat accumulation by promoting fat breakdown too. GH activates hormone sensitive lipase (HSL). This helps to release fatty acids from adipose tissue into circulation. GH also increases glucose uptake. This is done to use it as fuel in cells for energy production.
GH may also indirectly regulate metabolism through its effect on bone mass. It modulates leptin, IGF-1, and thyroid hormones T3 and T4. These responses to GH demonstrate its role as a regulator of body composition. This has been proven in research studies.
Growth Hormone (GH) is a medication prescribed by doctors. It is used to aid growth and development in children who don’t make enough of their own growth hormone. Recently, it has been approved for adults too. It can also be used to treat various medical conditions.
This article will look into the ways growth hormone can help and how it can benefit those who need it.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD) is a condition where the body produces too little of the growth hormone. Growth hormone is a hormone that helps kids grow. Symptoms include:
- being short
- late puberty
- low muscle strength
- poor thinking
Research has shown that Growth Hormone Therapy can help GHD in both children and adults. In children, treatment can help them grow taller. Adults can have better lives and fewer problems from GHD. Treatment is usually given with a needle under the skin, every day or week. Sometimes it is given through an IV, but only if other methods do not work. It is important to talk to a doctor before starting treatment due to risks with long-term use.
Growth Hormone Therapy
Growth Hormone (GH) is a widely accepted treatment for a variety of age-related conditions. It can help improve several aspects of health, like body composition and muscle mass.
Primary clinical uses for GH include:
- Treating growth failure in children caused by either hormones not being produced enough, or from chronic illness. This includes conditions such as Turner’s Syndrome, Down Syndrome, chronic renal failure, brain tumors, and small for gestational age babies.
- Stopping muscle loss in people with AIDS.
- Treating adults with growth hormone deficiency due to pituitary problems or other causes.
- Boosting muscle mass and improving strength and endurance in athletes.
- Enhancing exercise capability in recreational athletes.
- Rising energy levels in aging adults.
Growth hormone aids the body to develop and mend itself. It’s employed to treat circumstances like stunted growth or growth failure. But, consuming too much or consuming it in the incorrect form can cause side effects. In this part, we’ll go over the possible side effects of growth hormone:
Short-term Side Effects
Growth Hormone (GH) is secreted from the brain’s pituitary gland. It helps with growth and development. It also has other functions, like metabolism, water and electrolyte balance. But, GH therapy can have short-term adverse effects. These may include:
- Fluid retention
- Joint pain
- Muscle cramps
These usually go away over time, though other side effects like high cholesterol, sugar changes and sleep apnea can happen.
To keep safe while using GH, regular check-ups with a doctor are important. Patients should also be aware of potential long-term side effects, so they can take steps to avoid them. This is necessary for maintaining good health and well-being during therapy.
Long-term Side Effects
The side effects of growth hormone use vary depending on dosage, way of administration and duration. Commonly, increased risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular issues, edema, high blood pressure, and carpal tunnel can happen. Additionally, joint pain, muscle pain and swelling, plus nerve cell stimulation in the brain causing headaches or vision issues have been linked to HGH use.
Usually, users don’t see any changes in physical performance during long-term use, but some people have reported increased strength. Muscle mass growth and fat loss can be observed over time in certain studies. It’s important to note that health risks have been connected to growth hormone abuse with no visible signs initially, yet a gradual increase of stroke and heart problems have been reported in those abusing GH supplements or medication.
Growth hormone increases physical performance and bone/muscle strength. However, it carries potential health risks. To make an educated decision, it’s important to understand the safety related to using this drug. Here, we are going to discuss the associated safety considerations with growth hormone:
- Potential side effects
- Long-term use
- Overdose risks
- Interactions with other drugs
- Risks for certain populations
Monitoring Growth Hormone Therapy
Monitoring GH therapy is vital for gaining the best benefits. Its effects and dosage can differ for each individual, so it must be adjusted accordingly for safety and effectiveness. It’s best to have a doctor with endocrinology expertise oversee the entire therapy. They will be able to keep track of GH levels, related hormones and look for side effects.
The tests used for monitoring GH depend on age. Generally, thyroid tests, hemoglobin A1c (for diabetics), liver enzyme levels (ALT & AST) and IGF-1 can give info about the body’s response to GH treatment. Imaging techniques like X-rays can show changes due to the hormone therapy. It’s important to talk to your doctor about any concerns – some of these tests aren’t necessary but can help to assess health status and make decisions about the therapy.
Limitations of Growth Hormone Therapy
Growth hormone therapy has been employed since the 1960s to treat some medical conditions in kids and adults. It’s a vital tool for medical practitioners, yet has its restrictions. This therapy is useful for increasing health and energy, but one must keep an eye out for any side effects, like water retention, joint pain, and changed glucose metabolism. It could even worsen diabetes or heart failure in certain individuals. Long-term use of growth hormone may raise the risk of developing colorectal cancer or prostate cancer, based on the individual’s existing risk factors.
Moreover, it cannot be used to boost short stature due to idiopathic causes. This implies that doctors may not be able to use it on a child who has already reached their maximum height post-puberty. Therefore, parents and carers must take preconception tests if they’re hoping their child will benefit from this therapy after puberty.
Lastly, financial obstacles are connected with growth hormone therapy. Some pharmaceutical companies offer plans to reduce costs over time. Nevertheless, insurance coverage of expensive treatments just adds more hurdles to gaining access, particularly among low-income families.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Growth Hormone?
Growth Hormone is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, responsible for growth and development in children and adolescents.
2. Who needs Growth Hormone therapy?
Growth Hormone therapy is recommended for children and adolescents who have a deficiency of the hormone, or who have conditions that affect their growth.
3. How is Growth Hormone therapy administered?
Growth Hormone therapy is administered by injection, usually once a day, either subcutaneously or intramuscularly.
4. What are the side effects of Growth Hormone therapy?
Common side effects include injection site reactions, headaches, muscle pain, and swelling. Rarely, more serious side effects such as diabetes, increased pressure in the brain, and growth of tumors may occur.
5. Is Growth Hormone therapy safe?
Growth Hormone therapy is generally considered safe when used as directed by a healthcare professional. However, risks and benefits should be carefully considered before beginning therapy, particularly in individuals with underlying health conditions.
6. Can Growth Hormone therapy be used for anti-aging purposes?
Growth Hormone therapy should not be used for anti-aging purposes, as it can increase the risk of serious health complications and has not been proven to be effective in this regard.