Human Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy: Short Background
For decades, human growth hormone replacement therapy has become the answer to unusually short individuals, both young and adult despite the social and ethical controversies associated with it. These people are deficient of the said peptide hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates growth and cell reproduction. To treat the deficiency, growth hormone must be replaced.
Decades ago, growth hormone was drawn out from pituitary glands of cadavers, but is now produced through recombinant DNA technology, but still from humans, and is used for a number of purposes. Growth hormone replacement therapy is administered by injecting it into the subcutaneous tissue or muscle to lead it to the bloodstream. Most people expect this administration to be quite painful but virtually painless insulin syringes help to lessen the pain.
Human Growth Hormone Deficiency in Children
Human growth hormone replacement therapy helps a GH deficient child to grow faster within months. Other noticeable benefits include improvement in motor development, increased strength, and a decrease in body fat. Children with growth hormone deficiency under this therapy are said to have the least risk for potential problems and adverse events for this form of therapy for children are uncommon.
Side effects may not be the stumbling block for this therapy for children, however, the therapy is expensive. Treatment should be continued while the kid is still growing, and in some severe cases, lifelong treatment may be necessary even when the patient is already an adult. Save for the cost of the therapy, human growth hormone replacement therapy in children does not have much controversy and is better accepted as opposed to its controversial use among adults.
Human Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy in Adults
A number of benefits can be obtained from human growth hormone replacement therapy in adults who have GH deficiency. It can increase muscle mass, enhance bone density, reduce adipose tissue, boost the immune and circulatory systems, facilitate faster nail and hair growth, and enhance blood lipid levels. However, an improvement in long term mortality rate has yet to be proven.
Even with all these benefits it can provide, many GH deficient adults still do not get human growth hormone replacement therapy owing to various reasons. They do not like the injections (though quite painless); some are unwilling to seek medical care; remarkably lower rates of diagnosis and treatment prescribed by endocrinologists; and insufficient insurance coverage. Therapy in adult though is more affordable than in children since it is only approximately 25 percent of the children’s doses.
Other Uses of Human Growth Hormone Replacement Therapy
Despite the lack of, or reluctant, acceptance of human growth hormone replacement therapy in adults, studies are also under way to look into its effects in decelerating or reversing some of the similar effects of aging. Although this has drawn the interest of the public, more research is still needed to verify its benefits and accurately determine the risks involved.
The US FDA has also approved the therapy for treating five other conditions in children and one indication in adults. In adults, it is an approved treatment for wasting due to AIDS. In children, it is approved for Turner syndrome, chronic renal failure, Prader-Willi syndrome, idiopathic short stature, and for children who are short due to intrauterine growth retardation.
Owing to its beneficial effects on strength, power, and increased recovery, some athletes take human growth hormone replacement therapy even back in the days of cadaver growth hormone. Assays used to vet for steroids cannot detect GH at this time. Raised IGF1 level is the main indicator of such use.
Human growth hormone replacement therapy has been proven beneficial and widely accepted for GH deficient children. However, its use in GH deficient adults, for anti aging and other uses remains to be a hot issue.
See related articles.