Hormonal regulation of human muscle protein metabolism

Annu Rev Nutr. 1997:17:457-85. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.17.1.457.


A continuous turnover of protein (synthesis and breakdown) maintains the functional integrity and quality of skeletal muscle. Hormones are important regulators of this remodeling process. Anabolic hormones stimulate human muscle growth mainly by increasing protein synthesis (growth hormone, insulin-like growth factors, and testosterone) or by decreasing protein breakdown (insulin). Unlike in growing animals, insulin's main anabolic effect on muscle protein in adult humans is an inhibition of protein breakdown. Protein synthesis is stimulated only in the presence of a high amino acid supply. A combination of the stress hormones (glucagon, glucocorticoids, and catecholamines) cause muscle catabolism, but the effects of the individual hormones on human muscle and their mechanisms of action remain to be clearly defined. Although thyroid hormone is essential during growth, both an excess and a deficiency cause muscle wasting by yet unknown mechanisms. A greater understanding of the regulation of human muscle protein metabolism is essential to elucidate mechanisms of muscle wasting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Glucagon / pharmacology
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Human Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / pharmacology
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hormones
  • Insulin
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Glucagon