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Multiple Effects Of Growth Hormone In The Body: Is It Really The Hormone For Growth?

Jesús Devesa, Cristina Almengló, Pablo Devesa

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In this review, we analyze the effects of growth hormone on a number of tissues and organs and its putative role in the longitudinal growth of an organism. We conclude that the hormone plays a very important role in maintaining the homogeneity of tissues and organs during the normal development of the human body or after an injury. Its effects on growth do not seem to take place during the fetal period or during the early infancy and are mediated by insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) during childhood and puberty. In turn, IGF-I transcription is dependent on an adequate GH secretion, and in many tissues, it occurs independent of GH. We propose that GH may be a prohormone, rather than a hormone, since in many tissues and organs, it is proteolytically cleaved in a tissue-specific manner giving origin to shorter GH forms whose activity is still unknown.