- growth hormone
any substance that stimulates or controls the growth of an organism, esp. a species-specific hormone, as the human hormone somatotropin, secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. Abbr.: GH[1920-25]
* * *peptide hormone secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. It stimulates growth of bone and essentially all tissues of the body by stimulating protein synthesis and breaking down fat to provide energy. GH stimulates the liver to produce somatomedins (secondary hormones) that have an insulin-like effect. The human somatomedin level rises progressively during childhood and reaches its peak during the growth spurt that occurs in puberty.GH deficiency is one of many causes of dwarfism. When treated over a period of years with human GH, affected children responded dramatically. For decades, however, availability of the hormone was limited, because it was obtained solely from human cadaver pituitaries. In 1985 use of natural GH was halted in the United States and several other countries because of the possibility that the hormone transmitted a fatal slow-virus disease known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. That same year, by means of recombinant-DNA techniques, scientists were able to produce a biosynthetic human growth hormone they called somatrem, thus assuring a virtually unlimited supply of this once-precious substance.
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