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Human growth hormone (HGH)

Human growth hormone (HGH), also known as somatotropin, is a protein consisting of a single chain of 191 amino acids. HGH is synthesized by the somatotropic cells of the anterior pituitary and plays an important role in somatic growth through its effects on the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. The pituitary gland has two distinct parts, the anterior and the posterior lobes, each of which releases different hormones. The pituitary gland appears to be subservient in part to the hypothalamus. Pituitary gland development, including regulation and differentiation of somatotrophs, depends upon paracrine processes within the pituitary itself and involves several growth factors and neuropeptides. Secretion of growth hormone (GH) is stimulated by the natural GH secretagogue, called growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH), and inhibited by somatostatin (SS). The central role of growth hormone is controlling somatic growth in humans and other vertebrates, and the physiologically relevant pathways that regulate GH secretion from the pituitary are well known. At least four distinct biological activities have been ascribed to the mammalian growth hormone molecule, including growth promotion, lactogenic activity, diabetogenic activity, and insulin-like activity. Growth hormone is normally produced throughout life, although in highest amounts during the pre-adult period. The hormone is required for pre-adult growth. Human growth hormone causes a variety of physiological and metabolic effects in various animal models including linear bone growth, lactation, activation of macrophages, insulin-like and diabetogenic effects and others. These biological effects derive from the interaction between hGH and specific cellular receptors. Human growth hormone is known to promote skeletal growth, nitrogen retention, protein synthesis and affects glucose and lipid metabolism. In other words, growth hormone is a general anabolic agent. There are two known types of human growth hormone: one having a molecular weight of about 22,000 (22 k hGH) and the other having a molecular weight of about 20,000 (20 k HGH). The 22 k hGH is produced by means of recombinant DNA technology and is used for treatment of pituitary dwarfism in the field of pediatrics.

The growth hormone production pathway is composed of a series of interdependent genes whose products are required for normal growth. The GH pathway genes include ligands, such as GH and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I); transcription factors; stimulatory and inhibitory factors, such as growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) and somatostatin, respectively; and receptors, such as GHRH receptor (GHRH-R) and the growth hormone receptor (GHR). These genes are expressed in different organs and tissues, including but not limited to the hypothalamus, pituitary, liver, and bone. Growth hormone induces transcription of different genes by binding to a membrane-associated receptor, the growth hormone receptor, which belongs to the superfamily of cytokine receptors. To regulate the numbers of GHR on the cell surface, the GHR is internalized in the cell by endocytosis and transported to lysosomal vesicles for destruction. The biological activity of GRF resides in the N-terminal portion of the peptide. Full intrinsic activity and potency was also demonstrated with GRF both in vitro and in vivo. Sustained administration of GRF induces the same episodic secretory pattern of GH from the pituitary gland as under normal physiological conditions. Synthetic peptides such as growth hormone releasing peptide (GHRP) as well as peptidomimetics recently developed by Merck and other pharmaceutical companies have demonstrated their capability for stimulating the release of endogenous growth hormone. Various ways are known to release growth hormone. For example, chemicals such as arginine, L-dopa, glucagon, vasopressin, and insulin induced hypoglycemia, as well as activities such as sleep and exercise, indirectly cause growth hormone to be released from the pituitary by acting in some fashion on the hypothalamus perhaps either to decrease somatostatin secretion or to increase the secretion of the known secretagogue growth hormone releasing factor (GRF) or an unknown endogenous growth hormone releasing hormone or all of these. It must be noted that HGH itself and the HGH releaser are different products. As synthetic HGH is a hormone, it needs a doctor's prescription and the use of which has a strict standard dose. The HGH releaser is health food products, comprised of various natural extracts, and is not a hormone. The HGH releaser plays a complementary role in the pituitary gland to healp increase the body's own HGH secretion, and thus increase the formation of IGF-I to achieve the purpose of anti-aging.

There've been reported many health benefits of HGH products. Human growth hormone promotes the growth of every tissue but brain, especially bone, of a human mainly in the growth period. The physiological activities of HGH include, for example, growth promotion of bone or cartilage through the induction of somatomedin (IGF-I); stimulation of amino acid uptake and protein synthesis and inhibition of protein decomposition; acceleration of neutral lipid metabolism; acceleration of sugar metabolism; promotion of retention of electrolytes such as Na, K, etc. Endogenous growth hormones stimulate growth, increase the rate of protein synthesis and the mobilization and utilization of fatty acids, and decrease the rate of carbohydrate utilization. Administration of HGH products has been shown to increase the rate of growth, weight gain and meat production in animals. HGH is FDA approved product to treat hormonal deficiency that causes short stature in children and to stimulate skeletal growth in pediatric patients with growth hormone deficiency as in Turner's syndrome, etc. Although growth hormones are somewhat species specific, there is considerable homology among the amino acid sequences of animal growth hormones and these hormones have been shown to exhibit inter-species biological activities. Growth hormone is a hormone which stimulates growth of all tissues capable of growing. HGH is known to have a number of effects on metabolic processes, e.g., stimulation of protein synthesis and free fatty acid mobilisation and to cause a switch in energy metabolism from carbohydrate to fatty acid metabolism. Additional benefits of HGH therapy have included reduction in LDL cholesterol and improved psychological well-being. Human growth hormone supplementation has been shown to be an effective treatment for growth hormone deficiencies and their related disease states in humans. Apart from this application, studies have uncovered that human growth hormone supplementation may be useful in combating the maladies of aging in humans. Elevated growth hormone levels have been shown to result in increased lean muscle mass. As people age, the body fat percentage of the body increases while the important lean muscle mass decreases. The maintenance of lean muscle mass is considered extremely important as the loss of muscle strength is directly related to limited mobility and physical performance as well as to increases in the incidence of accidents suffered by the elderly. Therefore, HGH is regarded as an anti-aging products and bodybuilding supplements.

A variety of disorders can be attributed to growth hormone deficiency in human. There are several reasons for growth hormone deficiency, the most important thing is hypothalamus or pituitary problems. Most of the child with illnesses hypothalamus can not produce enough amount of the growth hormone. When accompanied by other abnormal secretion of pituitary hormones, the pan-pituitary function can be called panhypopituitarism. Administration of growth hormone can overcome pituitary deficiency. It has been reported that the supplementation of human growth hormone can restore hair growth, reduce wrinkles, promote fat metabolism, and even enhance libido. Presently, HGH is used for treatment of pituitary dwarfism, and various preparations containing a recombinant hGH such as Genotropin are commercially available. Furthermore, growth hormone is useful in the treatement of gastrointestinal bleeding, promoting the healing of bone fractures and accelerating the healing of contusions and other wounds. Most growth hormone deficiencies are caused by defects in GH release, not primary defects in pituitary synthesis of GH. Therefore, an alternative strategy for normalizing serum GH levels is by stimulating its release from somatotrophs. Increasing GH secretion can be achieved by stimulating or inhibiting various neurotransmitter systems in the brain and hypothalamus. By acting along physiologic regulatory pathways, HGH releasers stimulate pulsatile growth hormone secretion. Homeopathic HGH preparations comprising a purified growth hormone are preferably administered orally, in liquid or solid form, such as pellets or tablets. Oral administration is convenient and effective. Alternative delivery systems, such as HGH sprays, topical preparations, transdermal delivery, injectable HGH products (intracutaneous, intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous), systems also provide convenient and effective delivery of the homeopathic HGH preparations.

Growth hormone therapy is used in children to promote growth and in adults to improve muscle strength, reduce fat mass and improve metabolic profiles, which could predispose to cardiovascular disease. Human growth hormone (HGH) has been recognized as a treatment for children of short stature or with renal failure, and has been a safe and effective treatment in most cases, but there are several reports that such children often experience hyperinsulinemia as a result of HGH administration. Despite the health benefits of growth hormone replacement therapy, using HGH therapeutically is still considered somewhat risky. The potential side effects of HGH include the development of gigantism in children and adolescents, and acromegalic changes in adults. The development of myopathy in acromegaly patients has led to hypertrophy overshadowed by pathology. In adults, the excessive use of HGH may trigger coronary heart disease and peripheral nervous system disease, and irreversible caused by cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders. Exogenous excessive use of human growth hormone, can cause the body to produce antibodies to growth hormone response, thereby affecting the activity of endogenous growth hormone secretion of hormones and lead to chaos. Their potential long-term side effects are not reversible, or even fatal. Further, HGH has been considered as a powerful approach to the treatment of human aging, but its widespread use is inhibited by its serious side effects, the most important of which is elevation of fasting and glucose-stimulated insulin levels, a phenomenon that is known to be a risk factor for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Recombinant HGH therapy may also cause edema, hypertension, carpal tunnel syndrome, hyperinsulinemia and impaired glucose tolerance. Pharmacological doses of HGH may increase the duration of rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep in normal subjects. In normal young men, intravenous injections of GHRH may induce marked increases in SW sleep and/or REM sleep, and decreases the amount of wake. These somnogenic effects are dependent on the dosage and timing of administration.

HGH health benefits
The HGH benefits include promoting the growth of bone and regulated height, stimulating the breakdown of body fat to produce energy, synthesis of collagen for cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

HGH side effects
Possible side effects associated with HGH injections or synthenic replacement include water etention, the development of antibodies to HGH, hypertension, carpal tunel syndrome, abnormonal bone growth, and tumors, etc.

Growth hormone deficiency
Growth hormone deficiency may be congenital or acquired. Low HGH levels are associated with the aging process and early onset of disease. Most GH deficiencies are caused by defects in GH release.
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