Growth Hormone and Counterregulation in the Pathogenesis of Diabetes

Curr Diab Rep. 2022 Oct;22(10):511-524. doi: 10.1007/s11892-022-01488-7. Epub 2022 Aug 24.


Purpose of review: Canonical growth hormone (GH)-dependent signaling is essential for growth and counterregulatory responses to hypoglycemia, but also may contribute to glucose homeostasis (even in the absence of hypoglycemia) via its impact on metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, body composition, and cardiovascular risk profile. The aim of this review is to summarize recent data implicating GH action in metabolic control, including both IGF-1-dependent and -independent pathways, and its potential role as target for T2D therapy.

Recent findings: Experimental blockade of the GHR can modulate glucose metabolism. Moreover, the soluble form of the GH receptor (GHR, or GHBP) was recently identified as a mediator of improvement in glycemic control in patients with T2D randomized to bariatric surgery vs. medical therapy. Reductions in GHR were accompanied by increases in plasma GH, but unchanged levels of both total and free IGF-1. Likewise, hepatic GHR expression is reduced following both RYGB and VSG in rodents. Emerging data indicate that GH signaling is important for regulation of long-term glucose metabolism in T2D. Future studies will be required to dissect tissue-specific GH signaling and sensitivity and their contributions to systemic glucose metabolism.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Diabetes; Growth hormone; Growth hormone resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Glucose
  • Growth Hormone / physiology
  • Human Growth Hormone*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone
  • Glucose