The human growth hormone, released by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. The physiological effects of this hormone are numerous. They are associated with bone growth and cartilage extension; with the release of stored body fat and its conversion to energy; with increased protein absorption by muscle cells (thus muscle development and growth); and with accelerated use of the body's glucose (sugar). The hormone itself is inextricably linked with the release and the effect of thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones.

When pituitary disease or damage has occurred and somatotropin is deficient, growth is defective. Children born with a pituitary defect may grow very slowly (pituitary dwarfs), but if the condition is recognized early enough, treatment with the hormone will permit them to reach a normal height. Excess growth hormone production during childhood causes gigantism. Excess growth hormone secretion caused by a tumor in later life produces acromegaly; the condition can often be cured by treatment of the pituitary tumor, either surgically or by radiation therapy.

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