What is Human Growth Hormone (HGH)?

HGH, also known as Somatotropin is peptide hormone produced by the anterior lobe of the Pituitary gland; a pea-sized gland located in the base of the skull, just beneath the brain, and behind the nose. The biochemical structure of this peptide is quite complex, but it is made up of 191 amino acids, with a weight of 22.1Kda (kilo Daltons).

Secretion of HGH is stimulated by somatocrinin (a growth hormone-stimulating hormone) and inhibited by somatostatin. Amounts of HGH in the body are usually at the highest in kids, with the peak coming on at puberty. After puberty, the concentrations of HGH concentrations drastically reduce.

What are the functions of HGH?

  • HGH stimulates and regulates the growth of tissues and bones in the body. It promotes tissues growth by increasing protein synthesis and fat catabolism.
  • In children, it is vital for proper growth and development, including puberty.
  • It also helps in regulating the effects of insulin in the body by counteracting it.

What happens when HGH levels in the body are too high or too low?

When HGH levels in the body are low as a result of inadequate production of HGH by the pituitary gland, then it is known as Growth Hormone Deficiency. Growth hormone deficiency in children leads to stunted growth, low blood sugar, delayed puberty and obesity. In adults, it may cause hair loss, fatigue, and dry skin. Treatment of HGH deficiency majorly involves the administration of regulated amounts of HGH into the body.

When HGH levels in the body are high as a result of too much production of HGH by the pituitary gland, it is known as Excessive Growth Hormone Disorder. Excessive amounts of growth hormone in children may lead to gigantism in children, and acromegaly in adults. Both conditions involve excessive growth of body parts including the hands, feet, head and bones. Multiple procedures are usually needed to tackle excessive HGH production. All these procedures such as surgery, radiation and the use of medications all aim to lower the production of HGH, and remove any causal factors.

HGH has been synthesized artificially and it is used in treatments for various cases of deficiencies in children and adults.

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