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What is growth hormone?

Human Growth Hormone (hGH) is produced in the pituitary gland of humans, and the hormone is secreted throughout a person's lifetime. It promotes growth in children and plays an important role in adult metabolism.

It was first isolated in 1956 and its structure was identified in 1972. Until the mid-1980's the only source of hGH was from pituitary glands collected post mortem. Today hGH is available in larger quantities through the technique of genetic engineering and, consequently, a number of conditions apart from the classical growth hormone insufficiency can be treated.

Growth hormone insufficiency is a condition caused by a deficiency of natural growth hormone. Without treatment, e.g. boys typically reach a height of 130 cm at the age of 18, compared with a normal height of 162 cm. If treatment with growth hormone is initiated at an early stage, a final height close to normal can be obtained.

Turner's Syndrome is a genetic defect associated with short stature. Turner's syndrome affects girl's only. It is caused by a defect of one of the x chromosomes.

Chronic Renal Insufficiency growth retardation is often seen as a clinical manifestation of progressive chronic renal insufficiency in children. Since dialysis and transplantation sustain the lives of more children with end-state renal failure, short stature has become a prominent problem.

Growth hormone deficiency in adults is either due to a pituitary surgery or onset of growth hormone insufficiency during childhood. In adults, secretion of growth hormone regulates a number of metabolic processes.

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