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Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3(1):121-9.

Growth hormone (GH)-releasing hormone and GH secretagogues in normal aging: Fountain of Youth or Pool of Tantalus?

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  • 1VA Puget Sound Health Care System,Tacoma, Washington 98493, USA. herschec@yahoo.com

Abstract

Although growth hormone (GH) is primarily associated with linear growth in childhood, it continues to have important metabolic functions in adult life. Adult GH deficiency (AGHD) is a distinct clinical entity, and GH replacement in AGHD can improve body composition, strength, aerobic capacity, and mood, and may reduce vascular disease risk. While there are some hormone-related side effects, the balance of benefits and risks is generally favorable, and several countries have approved GH for clinical use in AGHD. GH secretion declines progressively and markedly with aging, and many age-related changes resemble those of partial AGHD. This suggests that replacing GH, or stimulating GH with GH-releasing hormone or a GH secretagogue could confer benefits in normal aging similar to those observed in AGHD--in particular, could reduce the loss of muscle mass, strength, and exercise capacity leading to frailty, thereby prolonging the ability to live independently. However, while most GH studies have shown body composition effects similar to those in AGHD, functional changes have been much less inconsistent, and older adults are more sensitive to GH side effects. Preliminary reports of improved cognition are encouraging, but the overall balance of benefits and risks of GH supplementation in normal aging remains uncertain.

PMID:
18488883
PMCID:
PMC2544358
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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