Growth hormone in the aging male

Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Aug;27(4):541-55. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2013.05.003. Epub 2013 Jun 18.


Secretion of growth hormone (GH) and IGF-1 levels decline during advancing years-of-life. These changes (somatopause) are associated with loss of vitality, muscle mass, physical function, together with the occurrence of frailty, central adiposity, cardiovascular complications, and deterioration of mental function. For GH treatment to be considered for anti-aging, improved longevity, organ-specific function, or quality of life should be demonstrable. A limited number of controlled studies suggest that GH supplementation in older men increases lean mass by ∼2 kg with similar reductions in fat mass. There is little evidence that GH treatment improves muscle strength and performance (e.g. walking speed or ability to climb stairs) or quality of life. The GHRH agonist (tesamorelin) restores normal GH pulsatility and amplitude, selectively reduces visceral fat, intima media thickness and triglycerides, and improves cognitive function in older persons. This report critically reviews the potential for GH augmentation during aging with emphasis on men since women appear more resistant to treatment.

Keywords: dwarfs; ghrelin; growth hormone; insulin-like growth factor I; longevity; muscle weakness; sarcopenia; tesamorelin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / drug effects
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / analogs & derivatives
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Human Growth Hormone* / deficiency
  • Human Growth Hormone* / genetics
  • Human Growth Hormone* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Longevity / drug effects
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Sarcopenia / complications
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone
  • tesamorelin