What is hGH? hGH or human growth hormone is a peptide hormone secreted naturally by the pituitary gland. hGH is present in various isoforms in the blood, the major isoform is a 22kDa molecular weight peptide composed of 191 amino acids. It is highly stable owing to the presence of disulphide bonds in its structure. It is known to stimulate various metabolic processes in the cells which effect protein, fat, carbohydrate and mineral metabolism. But the most important role of this hormone is to trigger the liver into secreting Insulin-like Growth Factor-I (IGF-I) which further fosters the production of cartilage cells that cause bone growth. Also, hGH plays an important role in the synthesis of muscle protein and organ growth.
Synthetic production of hGH
Earlier, hGH was isolated from human cadavers; but this source had to be soon discarded because of the presence of some contaminations that led to Creutzfeldt–Jakob. Human cadavers were replaced by recombinant hGH (rhGH) in the 1980s developed by means of genetic engineering. This form of hGH has been yielding good results ever since and has been used to treat several individuals with hGH deficiency. It has gained fame amongst athletes also because of its anabolic properties, wherein it enhances fat utilization and helps build lean body mass.
Use and Abuse
rhGH has been approved by the FDA for use by children and adults. It is used for treating several medical conditions that lead to short stature amongst children like Turner’s syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, chronic kidney disease, hGH deficiency or insufficiency, etc. While the use of rhGH in adults is approved for conditions like short bowel syndrome, hGH deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors or their treatment, muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS. These qualify as the various uses of recombinant hGH however what makes these more famous can be included under the abuse of the famous peptide. Many people use this very hormone as an anabolic steroid to build muscle in order to increase their athletic performance.
hGH-not really an anti-aging agent?
With age, the levels of hGH in the body naturally declines. So many people suggest that may be ageing could be challenged or at least slowed down with hGH supplements, but no research really supports this thought. hGh is made commercially available under various forms and names eg. Serostim, many of which are used for off-label purposes also. Some of these are designed in a way such it enhances fat utilization to improve lean body mass and weight and also for increasing the endurance and stamina amongst athletes.
Also, the use of hGH for these purposes is not FDA-approved and can even have side effects. Its long term effects are not very well known but one very common side effect is Acromegaly found in the people who do not monitor their intake of hGH. Few other problems resulting from misuse are fluid retention, hypertension, and an increased risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiomyopathy, osteoporosis, menstrual irregularities, and even impotence. One should use the hGH supplements only under strict medical regulation because many countries regulate the purchase of it only by prescription. It is highly recommended that one enjoys its wide range of benefits without indulging into hGH doping that might result in adverse effects of the same.