Hormonal determinants of pubertal growth

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2001;14 Suppl 6:1521-6.


Pubertal growth results from increased sex steroid and growth hormone (GH) secretion. Estrogens appear to play an important role in the regulation of pubertal growth in both girls and boys. In girls, however, estrogens cannot be the only sex steroids responsible for pubertal growth, as exogenous estrogens do not initiate a complete growth spurt. We therefore investigated the levels of the different sex steroids and GH, and related them to pubertal growth. In addition, we studied the process of bone maturation and mineralization during this period. Levels of both estrogens and androgens were found to increase at the start of the female pubertal growth spurt, and it was demonstrated that height velocity is related to levels of GH, estradiol and androstenedione, but not dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. In boys, GH, testosterone and estradiol increased at the time of peak height velocity. Bone mineralization increased as puberty began, and was associated with the increase in height velocity. Osteocalcin, a marker of bone formation, declined when height velocity decreased, although bone maturation progressed at a steady rate. We conclude, therefore, that in girls, the concerted actions of estradiol, GH and androstenedione play a role in the pubertal growth spurt, whereas in boys this role is fulfilled by testosterone, GH and estradiol. During puberty, an advanced rate of bone maturation with respect to cross-sectional standards is a physiological phenomenon.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Development
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Hormones / physiology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Osteocalcin / blood
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Hormones
  • Osteocalcin
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Estradiol