Aging and the growth hormone/insulin like growth factor-I axis
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- Sherlock, M. & Toogood, A.A. Pituitary (2007) 10: 189. doi:10.1007/s11102-007-0039-5
Growth hormone release and IGF-I synthesis decrease with increasing age. The regulation of the GH/IGF-I system is dependant on the integrity of the hypothalamus, pituitary and liver. During aging there are several changes which contribute to the decline in GH/IGF-I including changes in signal to the somatotrophs from growth hormone releasing hormone, somatostatin and other factors such as body composition, exercise, diet and sleep. All of these factors are discussed in detail within this review. The phenotypic similarities between aging and adult growth hormone deficiency syndrome combined with this decrease in GH/IGF-I with aging have prompted the question whether aging is a GH deficient state. The advent of recombinant growth hormone has led to a number of studies treating elderly patients with GH alone or in combination with sex steroids or exercise. The results of these studies would not back up the use of GH in elderly non-hypopituitary patients as they did not show efficacy, showed high rates of adverse events and there is also some evidence associating GH/IGF-I and risk of neoplasia. If GH therapy is to be used in this cohort of patients further long term efficacy and safety studies are required.