Can growth hormone counteract the catabolic effects of steroids?

Horm Res. 2009 Nov;72 Suppl 1:48-54. doi: 10.1159/000229764. Epub 2009 Nov 27.


Background: Chronic administration of glucocorticosteroids (GCs) can have significant catabolic effects in vivo in a host of metabolic systems, including amino acid metabolism, skeletal muscle, bone and linear growth. GCs inhibit protein synthesis and increase protein breakdown at the skeletal muscle and whole-body level and impair growth hormone (GH) secretion and action. Conversely, GH and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) are potent protein-anabolic and growth-promoting agents in vitro and in vivo. This review summarizes both the catabolic effects of GCs and the anabolic and metabolic effects of GH and IGF-I.

Conclusions: Both GH and IGF-I may decrease the catabolic effects of chronic steroid use in humans, particularly by enhancing lean body mass accrual and, in children, by increasing linear growth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / drug therapy
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / drug effects
  • Child
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Glucocorticoids / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Growth / drug effects
  • Growth Disorders / drug therapy
  • Growth Hormone / physiology*
  • Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / therapeutic use*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Muscle Proteins / drug effects
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone