Acute resistance exercise stimulates sex-specific dimeric immunoreactive growth hormone responses

Growth Horm IGF Res. 2015 Jun;25(3):136-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ghir.2015.02.002. Epub 2015 Feb 21.


Purpose: We sought to determine if an acute heavy resistance exercise test (AHRET) would elicit sex-specific responses in circulating growth hormone (GH), with untreated serum and serum treated with a reducing agent to break disulfide-bindings between GH dimers.

Methods: 19 untrained participants (nine men and ten women) participated in an acute heavy resistance exercise test using the back squat. Blood samples were drawn before exercise (Pre), immediate post (IP), +15 min (+15), and +30 min (+30) afterwards. Serum samples were chemically reduced using glutathione (GSH). ELISAs were then used to compare immunoreactive GH concentrations in reduced (+GSH) and non-reduced (-GSH) samples. Data were analyzed using a three-way (2 sex × 2 treatment × 4 time) mixed methods ANOVA, with significance set at p ≤ 0.05.

Results: GSH reduction resulted in increased immunoreactive GH concentrations when compared to non-reduced samples at Pre (1.68 ± 0.33 μg/L vs 1.25 ± 0.25 μg/L), IP (7.69 ± 1.08 μg/L vs 5.76 ± 0.80 μg/L), +15 min (4.39 ± 0.58 μg/L vs 3.24 ± 0.43 μg/L), and +30 min (2.35 ± 0.49 μg/L vs 1.45 ± 0.23 μg/L). Also, women demonstrated greater GH responses compared to men, and this was not affected by reduction.

Conclusions: Heavy resistance exercise increases immunoreactive GH dimer concentrations in men and women, with larger increases in women and more sustained response in men. The physiological significance of a sexually dimorphic GH response adds to the growing literature on aggregate GH and may be explained by differences in sex hormones and the structure of the GH cell network.

Keywords: Bioactivity; Exercise; Glutathione; Growth hormone isoforms; Sex steroids; Sexual dimorphism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Disulfides / chemistry*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Human Growth Hormone / chemistry
  • Human Growth Hormone / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Male
  • Resistance Training*
  • Young Adult


  • Disulfides
  • Human Growth Hormone