Impact of different concentrations of human recombinant growth hormone on T lymphocytes

Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. Jan-Mar 2012;25(1):87-97. doi: 10.1177/039463201202500111.


The aim of the present study is to evaluate the effects induced by increasing concentrations of human recombinant growth hormone on T lymphocytes. Ten healthy volunteers and twelve subjects with symptomatic allergies were enrolled in the study. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells and purified T lymphocytes were cultured in the presence of graded concentrations of growth hormone. Following appropriate in vitro stimulations, the proportion of apoptotic T cells, the percentage of activated T lymphocyte subpopulations, the phytohemagglutinin responsiveness and the Th2 response were assessed by flow cytometry analysis. Moreover, in order to evaluate the phosphoinositol-3-kinase signaling pathway involvement, cells were also analyzed after treatment with LY294002. The treatment with different concentrations of growth hormone did not influence the activation pattern of un-stimulated T lymphocytes. On the contrary, growth hormone was able to modify the CD38/HLA-DR co-expression of T cells activated with phytohemoagglutinin. A different response was observed when samples obtained from healthy donors and from subjects with symptomatic allergies were analysed. Moreover, growth hormone treatment was able to increase the Th2 response in the samples obtained from healthy donors only. The results of the present study strongly support the hypothesis that growth hormone administration may play an important role in conditions of impaired/activated immune systems. The observation that growth hormone administration at high doses may reverse its effects and that it may promote a Th2-oriented response have significant clinical implications when considering the use of this hormone for artificially enhancing the physical performances of healthy athletes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Chromones / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Human Growth Hormone / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Male
  • Morpholines / pharmacology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / drug effects
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Young Adult


  • Chromones
  • Morpholines
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • 2-(4-morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases