Obesity, growth hormone and weight loss

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 Mar 25;316(2):147-53. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2009.08.017. Epub 2009 Aug 31.


Growth hormone (GH) is the most important hormonal regulator of postnatal longitudinal growth in man. In adults GH is no longer needed for longitudinal growth. Adults with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) are characterised by perturbations in body composition, lipid metabolism, cardiovascular risk profile and bone mineral density. It is well established that adult GHD usually is accompanied by an increase in fat accumulation and GH replacement in adult patients with GHD results in reduction of fat mass and abdominal fat mass in particular. It is also recognized that obesity and abdominal obesity in particular results in a secondary reduction in GH secretion and subnormal insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels. The recovery of the GH IGF-I axis after weight loss suggest an acquired defect, however, the pathophysiologic role of GH in obesity is yet to be fully understood. In clinical studies examining the efficacy of GH in obese subjects very little or no effect are observed with respect to weight loss, whereas GH seems to reduce total and abdominal fat mass in obese subjects. The observed reductions in abdominal fat mass are modest and similar to what can be achieved by diet or exercise interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Caloric Restriction
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Human Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Human Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I