Effects of growth hormone on body composition and bone metabolism

Endocrine. 2000 Apr;12(2):163-72. doi: 10.1385/ENDO:12:2:163.


Physiologic effects of growth hormone (GH) extend beyond the stimulation of linear growth during childhood and adolescence. These effects include building and sustaining lean body mass, facilitating the utilization of fat mass for energy needs, and maintaining bone mineral density. These nongrowth effects of GH appear to be important throughout life. Children and adults with severe GHD demonstrate marked reductions in lean body mass, increases in percent body fat, and subnormal bone mineral density. Replacement of GH attenuates these abnormalities, though it remains unknown whether it does so completely. Children with body composition abnormalities resembling the GHD state (e.g., Prader-Willi syndrome) also appear to respond favorably to administration of GH treatment, and demonstrate concomitant improvements in strength and agility. Long-term body composition benefits of GH supplementation in these and other non-GHD individuals remain unproven.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Growth Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Growth Disorders / physiopathology
  • Human Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Human Growth Hormone / physiology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / physiopathology


  • Human Growth Hormone