Growth Hormone GH Somatotropin Somatotropic Hormone STH

Growth hormone (GH), also known as somatotropin and somatotropic hormone (STH), is released by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland and is essential to all parts of the body that are associated with growth. This hormone affects the growth rate of children and adolescents, increases tissue mass, and stimulates cell division. Somatotropin is essential for the maintenance of the epiphyseal disk, the area where bone growth occurs, of long bones. Throughout life, growth hormone also plays a role in increasing protein synthesis, breakdown of fats, and blood glucose levels. Growth hormone tests are used to confirm over- or underactive pituitary disease, and to identify growth problems during all stages of life.

Variations from Normal. Overproduction or increased levels of growth hormone can lead to gigantism in children or acromegaly in adults. Gigantism, characterized by abnormally large body proportions and abnormal sexual development, is usually attributed to hypersecretion of growth hormone during childhood. Acromegaly, characterized by enlargement, thickening, and elongation of facial and extremity bones, is the result of hypersecretion of growth hormone in adults. Increased growth hormone levels are also associated with hypoglycemia and anorexia nervosa.

Decreased growth hormone levels during childhood can result in the premature closure of epiphyseal disks, which in turn causes a cessation of growth known as dwarfism. Other conditions related to decreased growth hormone levels are pituitary insufficiency, hyperglycemia, and failure to thrive.

Interfering Circumstances. Stress, exercise, and low blood glucose levels may cause increased growth hormone levels. Many drugs such as amphetamines, estrogens, glucagon, histamine, and insulin may also increase GH levels. Decreased levels are seen in obese patients and individuals who use corticosteroid medications.

Normal Range

Adults and Children Newborns

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