As its name suggests, human growth hormone is an important mediator of the human growth process. This hormone is produced endogenously by the anterior pituitary gland, and exists at especially high levels during childhood. Its growth-promoting effects are broad, and can be separated into three distinct areas: bone, skeletal muscle, and internal organs. It also supports protein, carbohydrate, lipid, and mineral metabolism, and can stimulate the growth of connective tissues. Although vital to early development, human growth hormone is produced throughout adulthood. Its levels and biological role decline with age, but continue to support metabolism, muscle tissue growth/maintenance, and the management (reduction) of adipose tissue throughout life. Somatropin specifically describes pharmaceutical human growth hormone that was synthesized with the use of recombinant DNA technology.
Somatropin (rhGH) is biologically equivalent to human growth hormone (hGH) of pituitary origin. In a medical setting, somatropin is used to help treat a variety of health conditions. It is most notably prescribed in cases of childhood growth disorders that are characterized by insufficient growth hormone production. While usually not fully corrective, somatropin use is often capable of substantially increasing the linear growth rate and overall height before further growth is halted in adolescence. This medication is also used to accelerate growth in children that were born small and failed to catch up by the age of two. Other uses include the treatment of short bowel syndrome, growth failure due to renal insufficiency, muscle wasting associated with HIV infection, and adult growth hormone deficiency.