The response of molecular isoforms of growth hormone to acute exercise in trained adult males

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Jan;86(1):200-6. doi: 10.1210/jcem.86.1.7129.


Circulating GH consists of multiple molecular isoforms, all derived from the one gene in nonpregnant humans. To assess the effect of a potent stimulus to pituitary secretion on GH isoforms, we studied 17 aerobically trained males (age, 26.9 +/- 1.5 yr) in a randomized, repeat measures study of rest vs. exercise. Exercise consisted of continuous cycle ergometry at approximately 80% of predetermined maximal oxygen uptake for 20 min. Serum was assayed for total, pituitary, 22-kDa, recombinant, non-22-kDa, 20-kDa, and immunofunctional GH. All isoforms increased during, peaked at the end, and declined after exercise. At peak exercise, 22-kDa GH was the predominant isoform. After exercise, the ratios of non-22 kDa/total GH and 20-kDa GH/total GH increased and those of recombinant/pituitary GH decreased. The disappearance half-times for pituitary GH and 20-kDa GH were significantly longer than those for all other isoforms. We conclude that 1) all molecular isoforms of GH measured increased with and peaked at the end of acute exercise, with 22-kDa GH constituting the major isoform in serum during exercise; and 2) the proportion of non-22-kDa isoforms increased after exercise due in part to slower disappearance rates of 20-kDa and perhaps other non-22-kDa GH isoforms. It remains to be determined whether the various biological actions of different GH isoforms impact on postexercise homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Human Growth Hormone / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Weight
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Protein Isoforms / blood*
  • Time Factors


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Human Growth Hormone