Human Growth Hormone Fact Sheet
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a naturally occurring hormone. It is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and works at the cellular level to promote growth and anabolic metabolism. Human growth hormone is secreted in surges, which results in peaks and valleys in the level of the hormone throughout the day. The baseline level of human growth hormone is highest in childhood, and the peaks are highest during adolescence. This corresponds to the steady growth in children and the growth spurts of adolescence. Both the baseline level and the peaks diminish with age.
Some things stimulate or inhibit the secretion of human growth hormone. Sleep, exercise, hypoglycemia, protein ingestion and estradiol cause us to secrete HGH, while carbohydrate ingestion and glucorticoids suppress HGH secretion.
Functions In The Human Body
The primary function of human growth hormone is to promote height development. Human growth hormone also attaches to the cell membranes and causes other metabolic processes to occur. It improves bone mineralization, increases muscle mass, blocks fat deposition, facilitates protein synthesis, controls the pancreatic islet cells and stimulates the immune system.
Symptoms Of Inadequate Human Growth Hormone Production
Children with inadequate growth hormone production are unusually short and do not grow well. Adults with inadequate hormone production experience a lack of energy, muscle weakness, decreased muscle and bone mass, increased fat deposition and cardiovascular disease.
Recombinant human growth hormone, given by injection, is the treatment for HGH deficiency.
Various HGH releasers are available which stimulate our bodies to produce more HGH. These are not adequate for treating clinical hormone deficiency because the effect is not predictable enough.
Symptoms Of Overproduction Of Human Growth Hormone
Overproduction of human growth hormone is rare, but when it occurs in children who have open epiphyses (the growth areas at the ends of long bones), pituitary gigantism results. The child becomes very tall with long arms and legs. Secondary sex characteristics may not develop.
Overproduction of human growth hormone is more likely to be seen in middle age. After the bony epiphyses are sealed, bone growth is less noticeable. The lower jaw enlarges and the cranial bones thicken, giving the face a heavy look. The rib cage may enlarge. The heart becomes enlarged and may fail. The fingers and toes may thicken and enlarge. Enlarging tissues may cause carpal tunnel syndrome or nerve compression.
Excess growth hormone production is treated with medications to block the hormone or by surgically removing part of the pituitary gland.
There is a considerable amount of interest in the functions of HGH, and much research is being done to determine if it is helpful in treating various problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and fibromyalgia. Three popular uses are to reverse the effects of aging, for body building and for weight loss.