The effect of subcutaneous injection site on absorption of human growth hormone: abdomen versus thigh

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1991 Nov;35(5):409-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.1991.tb03557.x.


Objectives: To investigate whether growth hormone (GH) absorption is site dependent.

Design and measurements: Human growth hormone (hGH, Norditropin) 4 IU, was injected subcutaneously on two separate occasions: into the thigh on one occasion and into the abdomen on a second occasion. Blood was sampled for GH, insulin, glucose, non-esterified fatty acids and glycerol at baseline and hourly for 12 hours. Serum insulin-like growth factor I was measured at baseline, and after 12 and 24 hours.

Subjects: Eleven healthy young adults (8 M, 3 F).

Results: Following the injection serum GH had risen by 1 hour and peaked by 3-6 hours. The peak GH and growth hormone area under the curve were significantly higher after injection in the abdomen compared with the thigh (GH peak (mean +/- SEM) 103 +/- 20 vs 41 +/- 8 mU/l, P = 0.002 and GH area 528 +/- 86 vs 239 +/- 34 mU/l h, P = 0.003 respectively). Serum insulin-like growth factor I at 12 and at 24 hours showed a significant rise from the baseline level, but no significant difference was observed between the two injection sites. No significant difference in plasma insulin, glucose, non-esterified fatty acids or glycerol was observed between the two methods of injection.

Conclusion: Subcutaneously injected GH is better absorbed from the abdominal site than from the thigh.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Absorption
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / administration & dosage*
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous / methods*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Male
  • Thigh


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone