Glucocorticoids and the regulation of growth hormone secretion

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2013 May;9(5):265-76. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2013.5. Epub 2013 Feb 5.


Glucocorticoids modulate the secretion of growth hormone (GH) by various and competing effects on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. The final effects of this modulation depend on hormone concentrations and the duration of exposure. The traditional hypothesis is that chronically raised levels of glucocorticoids suppress the secretion of GH. However, a functional impairment of the GH reserve might also be observed in patients with low levels of glucocorticoids, such as those with secondary hypoadrenalism, which is consistent with the model of biphasic dose-dependent effects of glucocorticoids on the somatotropic axis. This Review updates our current understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of glucocorticoids on the secretion of GH and the clinical implications of the dual action of glucocorticoids on the GH reserve in humans. This Review will also address the potential diagnostic and therapeutic implications of GH for patients with a deficiency or excess of glucocorticoids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / deficiency
  • Animals
  • Cushing Syndrome / etiology
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced
  • Proteins / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Proteins
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Growth Hormone