HomeHealth articleshgh deficiencyWhat Are the Functions of Human Growth Hormone?

This article discusses in detail the functions of the Human Growth Hormone

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At September 12, 2015
Reviewed AtAugust 2, 2023


HGH means human growth hormone. It is also known as somatotropin or somatropin. It is made up of protein chains known as peptides. People mainly think of using this hormone for extra growth and try to become youthful, but is not realistic. Researches show that it is not useful for becoming youthful and it can cause harmful effects in the body when tried for the same.

Pituitary gland of the body produces this hormone. It promotes growth both in adults and children. Different biological activities such as various composition of the body, fluids of the body, growth of skeletal muscle tissue, bone growth, metabolism of different metabolites such as blood sugar and adipose tissue are maintained by growth hormone in our body. It also increases the fat accumulation in the body. Blood sugar level is enhanced in body due to higher concentration of the growth hormone. Some times it also maintains the function of the heart. It is also produced synthetically in the laboratory and used in the manufacturing of different varieties of drugs.

Structure of Growth Hormone:

It has 191 peptide chains in its structure. It is produced, stored and released from anterior pituitary gland. It is commonly prescribed by doctors for children and adolescents.

What Is Pituitary Gland?

It is one of the glands situated in the base of the brain. Its size and shape is like a pea. It is also known as hypophysis. Its weight is about 0.5 g. It is one of the endocrine glands of our body. The front part of the pituitary gland regulates stress, reproductive system, lactation process, growth of skeletal tissues. Middle lobe of the pituitary gland produces and releases melanocyte stimulating hormone which provides color to the skin. Skin color totally depends upon melanocytes. Back part does not synthesize any hormones. It stores antidiuretic and oxytocin hormone.

What Are the Indications for Use of Growth Hormone?

  • Growth hormone deficiency since birth.
  • Turner syndrome - it is due to absence of sex chromosomes and it is characterized by short height, broad neck and chest, downward hair line, low level ears, etc.
  • Chronic renal insufficiency - renal disorder may excrete the growth hormone in urine and leads to deficiency of growth hormone.
  • Intrauterine growth retardation - if person has no actual growth as per his/ her age, GH is indicated, especially in delayed milestone.
  • Prader-Willi syndrome - a genetic condition in which the growth of the person is very slow or absent and it is characterized by poor muscle tone, low levels of sex hormones, and a constant feeling of hunger.
  • Continued height deficit at puberty.

What Are the Contraindications for Use of Growth Hormone?

  • Active malignancy aggravates the condition because the growth hormone also promotes the growth of tumor.
  • Acute critical illness in response to open heart surgery - growth hormone may alter the rhythm of heart.
  • Abdominal surgery, or multiple accidental trauma, or acute respiratory failure.

Increased and Decreased Levels of the Growth Hormone:

There is a test to diagnose the concentration of the amount of the growth hormone in blood. Blood sample is taken from the vein of the patient from hand. Excess amount of growth hormone in blood causes over growth of the muscle and bones. This condition is known as acromegaly. It mainly occurs in adults people. In children, it is referred as gigantism. If concentration of the hormone is low in blood, it causes under growth or limited growth of the body tissue. It mainly affects skeletal tissue, cholesterol level in blood, and strength of the bone in patients. Test is also used to observe that the treatment for acromegaly works or not.

Excess of the hormonal levels - it produces several symptoms such as visual impairment due to over pressure on the optic nerve which is responsible for vision, severe headache, it also increases the thickness of the bone. Bones of fingers, toe, and jaw bones are most commonly are affected. Acromegaly has all these symptoms. There are many other symptoms such as heaviness in jaw. Fingers become longer than normal. Profound sweating is also present. Sometimes pressure on the hand nerve may cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome means heaviness, tingling, numbness present over affected hand due to pressure over the median nerve of the hand. Median nerve is a main nerve responsible for hand and finger functions. Sometimes, sexual function may reduce. Nerve and muscle pain is also produced. Swelling in the peripheral extremity may be present with the high level. Enlargement of the breast tissue in the men becomes evident.

Deficiency - signs and symptoms may depend upon the age. Short height and growth failure are the main symptoms of the deficiency of the growth hormone. Defects from birth are also present. Delayed sexual maturity is one of the prime symptoms. Increment in fat tissue, reduction in muscle fibre count, reduction in energy and this may hamper the quality of the life.

Normal Level of GH in Blood:

Normal concentration of the growth hormone in blood:

  • 1 - 16 ng/mL (female).
  • 1 - 9 ng/mL (male).
  • Molecular weight of GH – 22124 Dalton.

What Are the Functions of Growth Hormone?

  • Height - First and main function of the GH is increase in the height of the child. It stimulates the division of the skeletal muscle and promotes growth in height.
  • Bone Growth - It increases the density of the bone by increasing the retention of the calcium ions. Retention of the calcium also promotes the strength of the bone. It increases the mineralization activity of the bone.
  • Muscle - It increases the number of muscle fibers and promotes hypertrophy of the muscles. It also increases the muscle bulk. Hypertrophy also helps to increases the strength of the bone.
  • Protein Synthesis - Growth hormone increases the synthesis of the protein and makes it available for different biological activities such as bone and muscle growth.
  • Growth of Brain - It also promotes the growth of different parts of the brain and makes it powerful, active and healthy.
  • Homeostasis - Temperature regulation in our body is also by growth hormone. It also maintains the balance between alkalinity and acidity in our body. It regulates the pH of the body.
  • Glucose - It decreases the uptake of blood sugar by liver. It increases the sugar level in the blood. It also increases the activity like gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is defined as production of the sugar by non carbohydrate compounds such as pyruvate, glycerol etc.
  • Pancreatic Function - It also maintains the function of pancreatic tissue.
  • Immune System - Immunity is also enhanced and stimulated by influence of GH.

How to Use HGH Safely?

In early 19s, GH was highly used for enhancing the performance of the athletes in different sports activities. So, it was banned during that time since it is not detected in urine test. But in early 20s, it was best diagnosed from blood test. Food and drug administration department does not approve this drug. Livestock production in agriculture industries also used growth hormone.

It is applied by injection directly under the skin. Growth hormone pills and dietary supplements are available in market nowadays, but they are not effective as injected drugs. Artificial growth hormone has to be protected from light and heat rays. 36 to 46 degree Fahrenheit temperature is essential for storage of growth hormone in lab.

3.0 cc syringes are used for injection. Bacteriostatic water is filled in syringe. After that human growth hormone bottle should be opened. Powder of HGH is filled into syringe. Doctor or health care provider should not shake the syringe. When this powder is well mixed with protein water, the fluid will become clear in texture. Cloudy mixture is not administered in the body. Mixture should be filled up to 40.0 units. 2 IU is the exact amount of HGH in this mixture. This mixture should be injected in the inner part of the thigh subcutaneously. Please take it before sleep, because it increases the efficacy of the drug.


A pituitary tumor is the primary source of GH hypersecretion, which culminates in acromegaly or gigantism. Transshenoidal surgery can be used to address GH hypersecretion. In addition to or instead of surgery, medical treatment with octreotide and its analogs can effectively suppress GH secretion.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Role of Growth Hormone?

The pituitary gland secretes human growth hormone (HGH). The growth hormone helps in maintaining body structure and growth. Growth hormone plays an important role in regulating the body’s metabolism.


Is It Safe to Take HGH?

The HGH may be prescribed as a medication for certain conditions. It is usually administered in the form of injections. It is safe if this drug is taken in the form and dosage prescribed by the physician.


What May Be the Side Effects of Taking HGH?

The following may be the side effects of taking HGH:
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Diabetes.
- Swelling in extremities.
- Joint and muscle aches.


Do People Take HGH for Body Building?

Yes, bodybuilders, to some extent, depend on this hormone. When growth hormone supplements are taken, it helps repair the muscles after an injury. Bodybuilders are prone to muscular injury due to lifting heavy weights. This also helps in boosting the metabolism.


Does HGH Increase Testosterone?

Yes, consumption of HGH may lead to an increase in testosterone levels. Athletes use it to enhance their performance. Consumption of HGH may lead to a natural increase in testosterone levels.


Is HGH Harmful to the Kidneys?

Yes, when HGH is consumed for long periods, it may harm the kidneys. It is known to cause an increase in the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). It also leads to an increase in kidney size. The kidney is affected as it may find it difficult to excrete synthetic hormones.


Does HGH Affect Sperm Count?

Yes, HGH can affect sperm count. It may increase the number and quality of sperms as HGH alters the pituitary gland's secretion. It may also cause an increase in testosterone levels that may positively affect sperm count.


Can HGH Make a Person Look Younger?

Yes, HGH in milder doses is used as a part of anti-aging treatments. This usage has reduced wrinkles, making a person look younger. This is because the HGH is effective in repairing tissues. However, this treatment is not preferred as it is not safe.


When Does a Doctor Prescribe HGH as Medication?

An endocrinologist may prescribe HGH as medication for certain conditions, such as acromegaly. They help supplement the deficiency of the hormone. This can also be prescribed in adults to increase bone density and to increase muscle mass.


Can HGH Cause Hypertension?

Yes, HGH can lead to hypertension in some cases. HGH, when used to treat acromegaly, can indirectly increase renal absorption leading to hypertension. Apart from hypertension, it can also lead to other cardiac conditions.
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