Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1

Front Horm Res. 2016;47:101-14. doi: 10.1159/000445173. Epub 2016 Jun 27.


Human growth hormone (GH) was first isolated from the human pituitary gland in 1945 and found to promote the growth of children with hypopituitarism. Since the formation of the World Anti-Doping Association, human GH has appeared on the list of forbidden substances. There is a significant amount of anecdotal evidence that human GH is misused by athletes to enhance performance, and there have been a number of high-profile cases of GH use in professional sport. GH secretagogues (GH-Ss), which increase GH secretion, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which mediates many of the effects of GH, are also misused, although there is less evidence for this. The effectiveness of GH, IGF-1, and GH-Ss as performance-enhancing drugs remains unclear. Evidence from studies of GH use in people with hypopituitarism show several desirable outcomes, including increased lean body mass, increased strength, and increased exercise capacity. These anabolic and metabolic properties, coupled with the difficulty in detecting them, make them attractive as agents of misuse. Studies in healthy young adults have also demonstrated a performance benefit with GH and IGF-1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Doping in Sports*
  • Growth Hormone / physiology*
  • Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / therapeutic use


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone