Effects of Growth Hormone on Bone

Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2016;138:193-211. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.10.008. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Purpose: Describe the effects of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) on the skeleton.

Findings: The GH and IGF-1 axis has pleiotropic effects on the skeleton throughout the lifespan by influencing bone formation and resorption. GH deficiency leads to decreased bone turnover, delayed statural growth in children, low bone mass, and increased fracture risk in adults. GH replacement improves adult stature in GH deficient children, increases bone mineral density (BMD) in adults, and helps to optimize peak bone acquisition in patients, during the transition from adolescence to adulthood, who have persistent GH deficiency. Observational studies suggest that GH replacement may mitigate the excessive fracture risk associated with GH deficiency. Acromegaly, a state of GH and IGF-1 excess, is associated with increased bone turnover and decreased BMD in the lumbar spine observed in some studies, particularly in patients with hypogonadism. In addition, patients with acromegaly appear to be at an increased risk of morphometric-vertebral fractures, especially in the presence of active disease or concurrent hypogonadism. GH therapy also has beneficial effects on statural growth in several conditions characterized by GH insensitivity, including chronic renal failure, Turner syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, postnatal growth delay in patients with intrauterine growth retardation who do not demonstrate catchup growth, idiopathic short stature, short stature homeobox-containing (SHOX) gene mutations, and Noonan syndrome.

Summary: GH and IGF-1 have important roles in skeletal physiology, and GH has an important therapeutic role in both GH deficiency and insensitivity states.

Keywords: acromegaly; bone; growth hormone; growth hormone deficiency; hypopituitarism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / deficiency
  • Growth Hormone / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice


  • Growth Hormone