Growth hormone (GH) or somatotropin, also known as human growth hormone (hGH or HGH) in its human form, is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration in humans and other animals. It is thus important in human development. GH also stimulates production of IGF-1 and increases the concentration of glucose and free fatty acids. It is a type of mitogen which is specific only to the receptors on certain types of cells. GH is a 191-amino acid, single-chain polypeptide that is synthesized, stored and secreted by somatotropic cells within the lateral wings of the anterior pituitary gland.
A recombinant form of HGH called somatropin (INN) is used as a prescription drug to treat children's growth disorders and adult growth hormone deficiency. In the United States, it is only available legally from pharmacies by prescription from a licensed health care provider. In recent years in the United States, some health care providers are prescribing growth hormone in the elderly to increase vitality. While legal, the efficacy and safety of this use for HGH has not been tested in a clinical trial. Many of the functions of HGH remain unknown.
The names somatotropin (STH) or somatotropic hormone refer to the growth hormone produced naturally in animals and extracted from carcasses. Hormone extracted from human cadavers is abbreviated hGH. The main growth hormone produced by recombinant DNA technology has the approved generic name (INN) somatropin and the brand name Humatrope, and is properly abbreviated rhGH in the scientific literature. Since its introduction in 1992 Humatrope has been a banned sports doping agent, and in this context is referred to as HGH.
The term growth hormone has been incorrectly applied to refer to anabolic sex hormones in the European beef hormone controversy, which initially restricts the use of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, zeranol, melengestrol acetate and trenbolone acetate.
Genes for human growth hormone, known as growth hormone 1 (somatotropin; pituitary growth hormone) and growth hormone 2 (placental growth hormone; growth hormone variant), are localized in the q22-24 region of chromosome 17 and are closely related to human chorionic somatomammotropin (also known as placental lactogen) genes. GH, human chorionic somatomammotropin, and prolactin belong to a group of homologous hormones with growth-promoting and lactogenic activity.
The major isoform of the human growth hormone is a protein of 191 amino acids and a molecular weight of 22,124 daltons. The structure includes four helices necessary for functional interaction with the GH receptor. It appears that, in structure, GH is evolutionarily homologous to prolactin and chorionic somatomammotropin. Despite marked structural similarities between growth hormone from different species, only human and Old World monkey growth hormones have significant effects on the human growth hormone receptor.
Several molecular isoforms of GH exist in the pituitary gland and are released to blood. In particular, a variant of approximately 20 kDa originated by an alternative splicing is present in a rather constant 1:9 ratio, while recently an additional variant of 23-24 kDa has also been reported in post-exercise states at higher proportions. This variant has not been identified, but it has been suggested to coincide with a 22 kDa glycosylated variant of 23 kDa identified in the pituitary gland. Furthermore, these variants circulate partially bound to a protein (growth hormone-binding protein, GHBP), which is the truncated part of the growth hormone receptor, and an acid-labile subunit (ALS).
Secretion of growth hormone (GH) in the pituitary is regulated by the neurosecretory nuclei of the hypothalamus. These cells release the peptides growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH or somatocrinin) and growth hormone-inhibiting hormone (GHIH or somatostatin) into the hypophyseal portal venous blood surrounding the pituitary.GH release in the pituitary is primarily determined by the balance of these two peptides, which in turn is affected by many physiological stimulators (e.g., exercise, nutrition, sleep) and inhibitors (e.g., free fatty acids) of GH secretion.
Effects of growth hormone on the tissues of the body can generally be described as anabolic (building up). Like most other peptide hormones, GH acts by interacting with a specific receptor on the surface of cells.
The effects of growth hormone (GH) deficiency vary depending on the age at which they occur. Alterations in somatomedin can result in growth hormone deficiency with two known mechanisms; failure of tissues to respond to somatomedin, or failure of the liver to produce somatomedin. Major manifestations of GH deficiency in children are growth failure, the development of a short stature, and delayed sexual maturity. In adults, somatomedin alteration contributes to increased osteoclast activity, resulting in weaker bones that are more prone to pathologic fracture and osteoporosis. However, deficiency is rare in adults, with the most common cause being a pituitary adenoma. Other adult causes include a continuation of a childhood problem, other structural lesions or trauma, and very rarely idiopathic GHD.
GH is used as replacement therapy in adults with GH deficiency of either childhood-onset or adult-onset (usually as a result of an acquired pituitary tumor). In these patients, benefits have variably included reduced fat mass, increased lean mass, increased bone density, improved lipid profile, reduced cardiovascular risk factors, and improved psychosocial well-being. Long acting growth hormone (LAGH) analogues are now available for treating growth hormone deficiency both in children and adults. These are once weekly injections as compared to conventional growth hormone which has to be taken as daily injections. LAGH injection 4 times a month has been found to be as safe and effective as daily growth hormone injections.
Claims for GH as an anti-aging treatment date back to 1990 when the New England Journal of Medicine published a study wherein GH was used to treat 12 men over 60. At the conclusion of the study, all the men showed statistically significant increases in lean body mass and bone mineral density, while the control group did not. The authors of the study noted that these improvements were the opposite of the changes that would normally occur over a 10- to 20-year aging period. Despite the fact the authors at no time claimed that GH had reversed the aging process itself, their results were misinterpreted as indicating that GH is an effective anti-aging agent. This has led to organizations such as the controversial American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine promoting the use of this hormone as an \"anti-aging agent\".
In 1990, the US Congress passed an omnibus crime bill, the Crime Control Act of 1990, that amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, that classified anabolic steroids as controlled substances and added a new section that stated that a person who \"knowingly distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute, human growth hormone for any use in humans other than the treatment of a disease or other recognized medical condition, where such use has been authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services\" has committed a felony.
The Drug Enforcement Administration of the US Department of Justice considers off-label prescribing of HGH to be illegal, and to be a key path for illicit distribution of HGH. This section has also been interpreted by some doctors, most notably the authors of a commentary article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005, as meaning that prescribing HGH off-label may be considered illegal. And some articles in the popular press, such as those criticizing the pharmaceutical industry for marketing drugs for off-label use (with concern of ethics violations) have made strong statements about whether doctors can prescribe HGH off-label: \"Unlike other prescription drugs, HGH may be prescribed only for specific uses. U.S. sales are limited by law to treat a rare growth defect in children and a handful of uncommon conditions like short bowel syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome, a congenital disease that causes reduced muscle tone and a lack of hormones in sex glands.\" At the same time, anti-aging clinics where doctors prescribe, administer, and sell HGH to people are big business. In a 2012 article in Vanity Fair, when asked how HGH prescriptions far exceed the number of adult patients estimated to have HGH-deficiency, Dragos Roman, who leads a team at the FDA that reviews drugs in endocrinology, said \"The F.D.A. doesn't regulate off-label uses of H.G.H. Sometimes it's used appropriately. Sometimes it's not.\"
Athletes in many sports have used human growth hormone in order to attempt to enhance their athletic performance. Some recent studies have not been able to support claims that human growth hormone can improve the athletic performance of professional male athletes. Many athletic societies ban the use of GH and will issue sanctions against athletes who are caught using it. However, because GH is a potent endogenous protein, it is very difficult to detect GH doping. In the United States, GH is legally available only by prescription from a medical doctor.
Prior to its production by recombinant DNA technology, growth hormone used to treat deficiencies was extracted from the pituitary glands of cadavers. Attempts to create a wholly synthetic HGH failed. Limited supplies of HGH resulted in the restriction of HGH therapy to the treatment of idiopathic short stature. Very limited clinical studies of growth hormone derived from an Old World monkey, the rhesus macaque, were conducted by John C. Beck and colleagues in Montreal, in the late 1950s. The study published in 1957, which was conducted on \"a 13-year-old male with well-documented hypopituitarism secondary to a crainiophyaryngioma,\" found that: \"Human and monkey growth hormone resulted in a significant enhancement of nitrogen storage ... (and) there was a retention of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and sodium. ... There was a gain in body weight during both periods. ... There was a significant increase in urinary excretion of aldosterone during both periods of administration of growth hormone. This was most marked with the human growth hormone. ... Impairment of the glucose tolerance curve was evident after 10 days of administration of the human growth hormone. No change in glucose tolerance was demonstrable on the fifth day of administration of monkey growth hormone.\" The other study, published in 1958, was conducted on six people: the same subject as the Science paper; an 18-year-old male with statural and sexual retardation and a skeletal age of between 13 and 14 years; a 15-year-old female with well-documented hypopituitarism secondary to a craniopharyngioma; a 53-year-old female with carcinoma of the breast and widespread skeletal metastases; a 68-year-old female with advanced postmenopausal osteoporosis; and a healthy 24-year-old medical student without any clinical or laboratory evidence of systemic disease. 59ce067264