, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 5-10
Date: 23 Apr 2006

Growth hormone: Historical notes

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Abstract

A brief review of important contributions to our present knowledge of growth hormone is given. In 1887 it had been noted that a pituitary tumor was present in most patients with acromegaly. Even at the beginning of the 20. Century relationship between growth disorders and the pituitary was contested. From 1908 pituitary surgery became established treatment in GH hypersecretion. In 1922 it was demonstrated that injection of pituitary extract to animals caused excessive growth and soon after the opposite: removal of the pituitary caused growth retardation. A huge number of studies on the effects of GH were subsequently reported as were trials with GH treatment. They were impeded by failure to recognize the impact of species specificity of GH. After this issue was clarified in 1957, treatment with human growth hormone proved effective. In 1985 it was realized that Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s disease might be transmitted through human growth hormone. At this time recombinant GH had become available. In 1971 the structure of human GH was established. In the same period both GH releasing and inhibiting hormones were identified and an analogue of somatostatin had evolved into the first effective pharmacological treatment for acromegaly.