The role of the somatotropic system in cognition and other cerebral functions

Semin Vasc Med. 2004 May;4(2):167-72. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-835375.


Growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) receptors can be found in several areas of the brain. GH receptors are mainly found in the choroid plexus, thalamus, hypothalamus, pituitary, putamen, and hippocampus, whereas IGF-1 receptors are mainly concentrated in the hippocampus and parahippocampal areas. In early life, GH and IGF-1 have an important role in the development and differentiation of the central nervous system. In the more developed central nervous system, GH and IGF-1 are thought to have a variety of functions such as a neuroprotective function, an appetite increasing function, various cognitive functions, and perhaps a blood flow-regulating function. In GH-deficient children and adults, improvement of cognitive functions was observed after the administration of GH. Furthermore, specific cognitive functions in healthy older subjects may improve after increasing GH or IGF-1 levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / blood
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Growth Hormone / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Pituitary Gland / physiology


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone