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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011 Aug;111(2):465-72. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00157.2011. Epub 2011 Jun 2.

Immunoreactive and bioactive growth hormone responses to resistance exercise in men who are lean or obese.

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School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.


It has been suggested that obese individuals have a blunted growth hormone (GH) response to spontaneous and stimulated GH secretion. The present study was designed to examine the effects of a high-volume, whole body acute resistance exercise (RE) protocol on immunoreactive GH (iGH), bioactive GH (bGH), and GH-binding protein (GHBP) in sedentary lean and obese men. Nine obese (mean ± SD: 20.8 ± 2.1 yr old, 177.0 ± 4.1 cm height, 108.7 ± 15.9 kg body mass, 37.6 ± 5.29% body fat) and nine lean (20.1 ± 2.1 yr old, 177.8 ± 8.7 cm height, 71.7 ± 5.8 kg body mass, 14.7 ± 3.54% body fat) men completed an acute RE protocol (6 exercises, 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 85-95% of 10 repetitions maximum with 120- and 90-s rest periods), and blood samples were collected before, at the midpoint, and immediately after exercise and during recovery (+50, +70, and +110). In contrast to prior studies, which examined acute responses to cardiovascular exercise protocols, groups did not differ in iGH response to the exercise stimulus. However, bGH concentrations overall were significantly lower in the obese than the lean participants (P < 0.001). Additionally, obese individuals had significantly higher GHBP concentrations (P < 0.001). Results suggest that obese and lean sedentary men performing a high-volume, whole body acute RE protocol demonstrate similar increases in iGH. Blunted bGH and elevated GHBP concentrations are indicative of altered GH activity associated with obesity. Prior research findings of blunted iGH response may be attributable to RE protocols not equated on relative intensity or volume. These results underscore the complexity of pituitary biology and its related mechanisms and may have implications for exercise prescription in the treatment of obesity.

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