Human growth hormone (hGH) is a natural hormone produced by your pituitary gland that promotes growth in children, aids in the maintenance of normal body structure in adults, and regulates metabolism in both children and adults.
What is the definition of human growth hormone (hGH)?
Human growth hormone, also known as hGH and somatotropin, is a natural hormone produced and released by your pituitary gland that acts on many different parts of the body to promote growth in children. Once your bones’ growth plates (epiphyses) have fused, hGH no longer increases height, but your body still requires it. After you’ve finished growing, hGH aids in the maintenance of normal body structure and metabolism, including the maintenance of healthy blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Hormones are chemicals that help your body coordinate different functions by transporting messages through your blood to your organs, muscles, and other tissues. These signals instruct your body on what to do and when. Over 50 hormones are produced by your body, and many of them interact with one another, resulting in a complex web of processes.
The pituitary gland is a small endocrine gland located at the base of your brain, beneath the hypothalamus. It is divided into two lobes: anterior (front) and posterior (back). The anterior lobe of your brain produces hGH.
A stalk of blood vessels and nerves connects your pituitary gland to your hypothalamus. This is known as the pituitary stalk. The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that regulates functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and digestion. The hypothalamus communicates with the pituitary gland via the stalk, instructing it to release certain hormones. In this case, your hypothalamus releases GHRH, which stimulates your pituitary gland to release hGH, and somatostatin, which prevents (inhibits) that release.
Certain medical conditions, such as growth hormone deficiency, are treated with a synthetic form of hGH (also known as recombinant hGH). You should never take synthetic hGH without a doctor’s prescription.
What exactly is the purpose of human growth hormone (hGH)?
Human growth hormone serves two purposes: it promotes growth (particularly in children) and it influences metabolism (how your body turns the food you eat into energy).
Growth and hGH
Human growth hormone stimulates the growth of almost every tissue and organ in your body. However, it is best known for its ability to promote cartilage and bone growth, particularly during the adolescent years of puberty. hGH sends signals to cartilage cells called chondrocytes and bone cells called osteoblasts to increase replication and thus allow for size growth.
Once a child’s growth plates have fused, hGH no longer increases height. Instead, hGH aids in the maintenance of normal body structure for the rest of your life.
hGH and metabolic rate
Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that occur in your body to convert the food you eat into energy. All of your body’s cells require energy to function properly. Metabolism involves a number of intricate processes.
hGH affects metabolism primarily by increasing insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) production and its effect on cells in your body. IGF-1 is a hormone with a structure similar to insulin that regulates the effects of hGH in your body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels by decreasing them. IGF-1, like insulin, has glucose-lowering properties.
Your blood glucose levels are normally carefully regulated by your body. Blood glucose, also known as sugar, is the most common type of sugar found in the body. Carbohydrates in food provide you with glucose. This sugar is a good source of energy and contains nutrients for your organs, muscles, and nervous system.
Insulin is the main hormone produced by your pancreas to lower blood glucose levels when they become too high, and glucagon is the main hormone produced by your pancreas to raise glucose levels when they become too low. Other hormones, such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol, can counteract the effects of insulin.
While hGH normally raises blood glucose levels when they fall too low, excess hGH in the body can counteract the effects of insulin, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels.