growth hormone

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growth hormone

growth hormone or somatotropin (sōmătˌətrōˈpən), glycoprotein hormone released by the anterior pituitary gland that is necessary for normal skeletal growth in humans (see protein). Evidence suggests that the secretion of human growth hormone (HGH) is regulated by the release of certain peptides by the hypothalamus of the brain. One such substance, called somatostatin, has been shown to inhibit the secretion of HGH. HGH is known to act upon many aspects of cellular metabolism, but its most obvious effect is the stimulation of the growth of cartilage and bone in children.

See also auxins (plant growth hormones).

Role in Dwarfism and Gigantism

A deficiency of growth hormone secretion before puberty (by the end of which the synthesis of new bone tissue is complete) results in pituitary dwarfism. Pituitary dwarfs, who can be as little as 3 to 4 ft (91–122 cm) tall, are generally well proportioned except for the head, which may be relatively large when compared to the body (this relationship of head to body is similar to that of normal children). Unlike cretins, whose dwarfism is caused by a deficiency of thyroxine, pituitary dwarfs are not mentally retarded; they are often sexually immature. They can be treated by injections of synthetic growth hormone, either somatrem or somatropin, which are produced by genetically engineered bacteria.

An excess of growth hormone in children results in gigantism; these children grow to be over 7 ft (213 cm) in height and have disproportionately long limbs. Excess growth hormone produced after puberty has little effect on the growth of the skeleton, but it results in a disease affecting terminal skeletal structures known as acromegaly.

Other Medical Uses

HGH has been used with some success to combat the weight loss and general wasting characteristic of AIDS and cancer. It is used illegally by bodybuilders and athletes to increase muscle mass. Controversy surrounds its use in normal children who simply want to be taller. In addition, a 1990 medical study that reported the reversal of many of the physiological effects of aging with regular injections of HGH has created a lucrative black market for it and has prompted funding of further trials. There has been no conclusive evidence, however, to support the use of HGH as an anti-aging treatment, and it can cause serious side effects, including diabetes, in older adults.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Growth Hormone


an adenohypophyseal hormone that accelerates the longitudinal growth of an organism’s bones and the organism’s overall body growth. It also helps regulate carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism.

Growth hormone is synthesized by acidophilic cells of the anterior pituitary and secreted into the blood, where it is rapidly broken down. Human growth hormone is a protein with a molecular weight of 21,500. Its polypeptide chain consists of 191 amino-acid residues and contains two disulfide bridges. The primary structure of human, sheep, and ox growth hormone has been established.

The chemical structure of growth hormone has changed in different animals during the course of evolution, and the hormone has differentiated according to species. In man and sheep, for example, the hormones differ by a sequence of 70 amino-acid residues, which constitute more than one-third of the protein molecule. Therefore, animal growth hormone does not stimulate human growth, whereas human growth hormone is able to stimulate the growth of experimental animals (monkey growth hormone is closest to human growth hormone).

Increased secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland at an early age accelerates growth and causes gigantism. At a later age such increased secretion leads to acromegaly. A decrease in secretion results in hypophyseal dwarfism. This disease when detected in childhood responds to treatment by injections of growth hormone.


Sinitsina, A. L., and Iu. M. Keda. “Sovremennye predstavleniia o strukture i funktsii gormona rosta.” In the collection Sovremennye voprosy endokrinologii, fasc. 4. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

growth hormone

[′grōth ¦hȯr‚mōn]
A polypeptide hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary which promotes an increase in body size. Abbreviated GH.
Any hormone that regulates growth in plants and animals.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Some of the SNPs of the GH-1 promoter and exon 1 region are observed and reported in short stature subjects in multiple studies furthermore the haplotype map of the patients with Idiopathic short stature, and isolated growth hormone deficiency varies from that of the normal statured population (Hirschhorn et al., 2001; Dennison et al., 2004).
In children with achondroplasia, with growth hormone treatment, a transient increase in height velocity without any effects on final height is observed, and consequently, the use of routine recombinant growth hormone in achondroplasia is not recommended (13).
Impact of growth hormone therapy on adult height of children with idiopathic short stature: systematic review.
So recently growth hormone secretagogues are discovered which provide a more physiological route for the release of growth hormone8.
(1993) determined growth hormone values of untrained persons and bicycle racers in his study and it was observed that growth hormone levels were similar in both groups at quiet.
Claims that growth hormone enhances physical performance are simply not supported by the literature.
The bioactivity evaluation of plasmid based recombinant caprine growth hormone (rcGH-pND) by weight gain and tibia width bioassays in BALB/c female mice showed that there was significant increase in the weight (P less than 0.05) as well as in width of tibia (P less than 0.05) of the mice from zero to fourth week of the experiment showing gradual normal growth pattern in comparison to PBS and pND control (Table 1 2).
(2.) Laron Z, Pertzelan A, Mannheimer S, 1966 Genetic pituitary hormone dwarfism with high serum concentration of growth hormone -a new inborn error of metabolism?
Recombinant human growth hormone can often help, but response is variable in children on dialysis.
Over the last 10 years, the GH-2004 team, which is based the University of Southampton, has been developing a test for Growth Hormone misuse in sport with funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and US Anti-Doping Agency and with support from UK Anti-Doping.
In this case, Seattle television station KOMO reported that tour physicians were inappropriately prescribing human growth hormone (HGH).

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