Human Growth Hormone
Anti-aging agent 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, 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. A Stanford University School of Medicine survey of clinical studies on the subject published in early 2007 showed that the application of GH on healthy elderly patients increased muscle by about 2 kg and decreased body fat by the same amount. However, these were the only positive effects from taking GH. No other critical factors were affected, such as bone density, cholesterol levels, lipid measurements, maximal oxygen consumption, or any other factor that would indicate increased fitness. Researchers also did not discover any gain in muscle strength, which led them to believe that GH merely let the body store more water in the muscles rather than increase muscle growth. This would explain the increase in lean body mass.
HGH treatment for athletic enhancement Athletes in many sports use human growth hormone 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.
Main article: HGH controversies There is theoretical concern that HGH treatment may increase the risks of diabetes, especially in those with other predispositions treated with higher doses. If used for training, growth at a young age (25 or less) can cause severe symptoms. One survey of adults that had been treated with replacement cadaver GH (which has not been used anywhere in the world since 1985) during childhood showed a mildly increased incidence of colon cancer and prostate cancer, but linkage with the GH treatment was not established. Regular application of extra GH may show several negative side-effects such as joint swelling, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and an increased risk of diabetes. Other side effects can include less sleep needed after dosing. This is common initially and decreases in effect after habitual use of GH.
Stimulators of GH secretion include:
- sex hormones o increased androgen secretion during puberty (in males from testis and in females from adrenal cortex) o estrogen
- clonidine and L-DOPA by stimulating GHRH release
- low blood sugar, arginine and propranolol by inhibiting somatostatin release
- deep sleep
- vigorous exercise
Inhibitors of GH secretion include:
- high blood sugar
- Costisol , prednisone
In addition to control by endogenous and stimulus processes, a number of foreign compounds (xenobiotics such as drugs and endocrine disruptors) are known to influence GH secretion and function.
HGH is synthesized and secreted from the anterior pituitary gland in a pulsatile manner throughout the day; surges of secretion occur at 3- to 5-hour intervals. The plasma concentration of GH during these peaks may range from 5 to even 45 ng/mL. The largest and most predictable of these GH peaks occurs about an hour after onset of sleep. Otherwise there is wide variation between days and individuals. Nearly fifty percent of HGH secretion occurs during the third and fourth REM sleep stages. Between the peaks, basal GH levels are low, usually less than 5 ng/mL for most of the day and night. Additional analysis of the pulsatile profile of GH described in all cases less than 1 ng/ml for basal levels while maximum peaks were situated around 10-20 ng/mL. A number of factors are known to affect HGH secretion, such as age, gender, diet, exercise, stress, and other hormones. Young adolescents secrete HGH at the rate of about 700 μg/day, while healthy adults secrete HGH at the rate of about 400 μg/day. 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 fuel homeostasis
- Reduces liver uptake of glucose
- Promotes gluconeogenesis in the liver
- Contributes to the maintenance and function of pancreatic islets
- Stimulates the immune system
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. Prolonged GH excess thickens the bones of the jaw, fingers and toes. Resulting heaviness of the jaw and increased size of digits is referred to as acromegaly. Accompanying problems can include sweating, pressure on nerves (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome), muscle weakness, excess sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), insulin resistance or even a rare form of type 2 diabetes, and reduced sexual function. GH-secreting tumors are typically recognized in the fifth decade of life. It is extremely rare for such a tumor to occur in childhood, but, when it does, the excessive GH can cause excessive growth, traditionally referred to as pituitary gigantism. Surgical removal is the usual treatment for GH-producing tumors. In some circumstances, focused radiation or a GH antagonist such as pegvisomant may be employed to shrink the tumor or block function. Other drugs like octreotide (somatostatin agonist) and bromocriptine (dopamine agonist) can be used to block GH secretion because both somatostatin and dopamine negatively inhibit GHRH-mediated GH release from the anterior pituitary.
Growth hormone deficiency The effects of growth hormone deficiency vary depending on the age at which they occur. In children, growth failure and short stature are the major manifestations of GH deficiency, with common causes including genetic conditions and congenital malformations. It can also cause delayed sexual maturity. In adults, deficiency is rare, with the most common cause a pituitary adenoma, and others including a continuation of a childhood problem, other structural lesions or trauma, and very rarely idiopathic GHD. 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. Treatment with exogenous GH is indicated only in limited circumstances, and needs regular monitoring due to the frequency and severity of side-effects. GH is used as replacement therapy in adults with GH deficiency of either childhood-onset (after completing growth phase) 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.
Growth hormone treatment Treatments unrelated to deficiency GH can be used to treat conditions that produce short stature but are not related to deficiencies in GH. . GH can also be used for conditions that do not cause short stature. Typically, growth hormone treatment for conditions unrelated to stature is controversial and experimental. GH has been used for remission of multiple sclerosis, to reverse the effects of aging in older adults (see below), to enhance weight loss in obesity, as well as fibromyalgia, heart failure, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, burns and bodybuilding or athletic enhancement.
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