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Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jul 5;18(7). pii: E1447. doi: 10.3390/ijms18071447.

The Role of Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-I in the Liver.

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Division of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, 7-5-2, Kusunoki-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0017, Japan.


Adult growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is characterized by metabolic abnormalities associated with visceral obesity, impaired quality of life, and increased mortality. Patients with adult GHD show increased prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)/non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and growth hormone (GH) replacement therapy has been shown to improve these conditions. It has also been demonstrated that a decrease in the GH insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) axis is closely associated with the progression of general NAFLD, suggesting a physiological role of these hormones for the maintenance of the liver. NASH histologically demonstrates inflammation, necrosis, and fibrosis, in addition to steatosis (and is a serious disease because it can progress to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in a subset of cases). While fibrosis determines the prognosis of the patient, efficacious treatment for fibrosis is crucial; however, it has not yet been established. Recent studies have clarified the essential roles of GH and IGF-I in the liver. GH profoundly reduces visceral fat, which plays an important role in the development of NAFLD. Furthermore, GH directly reduces lipogenesis in the hepatocytes. IGF-I induces cellular senescence and inactivates hepatic stellate cells, therefore ameliorating fibrosis. IGF-I treatment has been shown to improve animal models of NASH and cirrhosis, suggesting potential clinical applications of IGF-I in these conditions. In this review, I will focus on the important roles of GH and IGF-I in the liver, their underlying mechanisms, and their potential therapeutic applications.


adult growth hormone deficiency; cirrhosis; growth hormone; hepatic stellate cells; insulin-like growth factor-I; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

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