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Int J Sports Med. 2012 Mar;33(3):240-3. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1291324. Epub 2012 Feb 8.

Growth hormone does not stimulate early healing in rat tendons.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Experimental Orthopaedics, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.


Growth Hormone stimulates bone growth and fracture repair. It acts mainly by increasing the systemic levels of IGF-1. Local treatment with IGF-1 appears to stimulate tendon healing. We therefore hypothesized that systemic treatment with Growth Hormone would also stimulate tendon healing. Rat Achilles tendons were transected and left to heal. 4 groups were studied. Intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin A (Botox) were used to reduce loading in 2 groups. The animals were randomized to twice daily injections of Growth Hormone (n=2×10) or saline (n=2×10), and killed after 10 days. Healing was assessed by mechanical testing. Muscle paralysis induced by Botox reduced the strength of the healing tendon by two thirds. Growth Hormone increased femoral and tibial length in the unloaded, and femoral and tibial weight in the loaded group. Body weight and muscle weight were increased in both. In contrast, there was no increase in the strength of the healing tendons, regardless of mechanical loading status. An increase in peak force of the loaded healing tendons by more than 5% could be excluded with 95% confidence. In spite of its stimulatory effects on other tissues, Growth Hormone did not appear to stimulate tendon or tendon repair.

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