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Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone (GHRH) Health Effects

Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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GHRH

Growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) has many positive roles in the human body; it stimulates growth, development, and muscle strength. On the other hand, it’s involved in the progression of certain chronic diseases. Read on to learn the roles of GHRH in health and disease.

What is Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone?

Growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), also known as somatocrinin, is produced in the brain. The hypothalamus releases GHRH to stimulate the pituitary gland in order to release growth hormone [1].

By regulating the production of growth hormone and other important messengers, GHRH plays a complex role in health and disease.

GHRH in Health

Please note: the studies quoted in this section are meant to clarify the physiological roles of naturally-occurring GHRH in the human body. They’re not supporting the use of this hormone in treatment or prevention of any health condition.

1) Protects the Heart

Human patients who have suffered a heart attack have extensive heart damage. Treatment with GHRH promoters reduce inflammation and improve the mechanisms that remodel and heal cardiac muscle tissue [2].

In large swine who have had heart attacks, daily injections of GHRH reduced the scar tissue buildup in the heart and decreased strain [3].

In rat hearts, GHRH promotes the activation of a kinase that helps protect cardiac cells [4].

In mice suffering from heart disease, mesenchymal stem cells are critical to reducing symptoms. Tests with GHRH improved stem cell mobility and lifespan, reducing the overall effects of heart disease [5].

In mice suffering from radiation-induced heart cell damage, GHRH relieved and protected damaged cells [6].

2) Improves Muscle Growth and Recovery

An increase in GHRH expression in humans decreases skeletal muscle cell death and atrophy [7].

Increased levels of GHRH led to increased muscle mass and growth [8].

In human muscle cells, treatment with GHRH promotes muscle health and prevents atrophy [9].

In yaks suffering from growth retardation, administering GHRH increased the release of growth hormone, increasing muscle mass and overall growth performance [10].

3) Protects the Brain

In human patients suffering from a traumatic brain injury, the decreased size of the pituitary gland leads to a decrease in GHRH. Treatment with GHRH may improve pituitary size and health [11].

In mice, increased levels of GHRH and other neuropeptides increased neuron health, nervous system health, and overall development of nerve cells [12].

4) Supports Wound Healing

Animals who were injected with GHRH showed a decrease in time taken to heal skin wounds [13].

Mice treated topically with GHRH after suffering an extensive wound had rapid wound closure, reduction in inflammation, and a decrease in scar tissue [14].

5) Improves Body Composition

Young adults suffering from Prader-Willi syndrome have high risks of developing diabetes, obesity, and heart disease at a young age, increasing the chances of death.

Treatment of these patients with GHRH and growth hormones throughout adulthood decreases overall fat mass and instead promotes lean body mass [15].

6) Promotes Child Growth and Fetus Development

In children suffering from decreased levels of growth hormone due to suppressed pituitary function, treatment with GHRH increased their levels of growth hormones. This promoted healthy growth into adulthood without seriously mutating the pituitary gland [16].

During pregnancy, elevated levels of GHRH in placenta tissue decreased cell stress, increased cell growth, and reduced the chance of loss of pregnancy due to tissue death [17].

7) Improves Testicular Function

Rats treated with GHRH had a steady increase in testicular responsiveness and receptors, promoting natural testicular function [18].

Increased levels of GHRH in males improved testosterone production, which in turn promoted further growth hormone release [19].

GHRH in Disease

1) Cancer

In human tumoral prostate epithelial cells, GHRH promotes cancer cell proliferation and growth [20].

Patients suffering from pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors (NET) have elevated levels of GHRH that further promote the symptoms of NET [21].

Humans suffering from malignant mixed Mullerian tumors have increased levels of GHRH that increase the size and proliferation of these tumors [22].

In patients suffering from ectopic-acromegaly (lung tumors and lesions) had significant amounts of GHRH within the lesions, promoting their growth and spread throughout the lung [23].

Humans suffering from papillary thyroid cancer have increased levels of GHRH that promote cancer symptoms by promoting the expression of SV1 in tumor cells [24].

In vitro tests of human melanoma cancer cells show high levels of GHRH that require antagonists in order to prevent the spread of skin cancer [25].

Large B-cell lymphoma causes an increase of GHRH, which leads to a growth of the pituitary gland, further progressing the lymphoma symptoms in human patients [26].

In female patients, there are several markers identifiable in leading to breast cancer. GHRH is one of those genes that is shown to promote breast cancer growth and spread [27].

There are increased levels of GHRH and GHRH receptors on 6 of the 9 major breast cancer lines, increasing estrogen, progesterone, and spread of breast cancer [28].

2) Impaired Metabolism

In normally healthy adults, those with higher levels of GHRH had increased lipid profiles in the blood, high glucose levels, and lower insulin levels than those with average GHRH levels [29].

3) Impaired Memory

GHRH impaired hippocampal memory processing and formation in 20 volunteers [30].

4) Eye Disease

Eye inflammation is the cause of many eye diseases in elderly patients. An increase of GHRH receptors in the iris and ciliary body was shown to promote macrophages and leukocytes, increasing inflammation and decreasing the vision of the patient [31].

Caution

In all types of sports, GHRH has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency [32].

In some mutations that decrease overall GH production in young adults, treatment with GHRH proves to be toxic to the pituitary gland. This can cause other hormone destruction and deficiencies [33].

Once again, this post is for informational purposes only and discusses the roles of naturally-occurring GHRH. It doesn’t support its use for any condition. If you have a medical condition that may require hormonal treatment, make sure to seek medical attention.

About the Author

Aleksa Ristic

Aleksa Ristic

MS (Pharmacy)
Aleksa received his MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade, his master thesis focusing on protein sources in plant-based diets. 
Aleksa is passionate about herbal pharmacy, nutrition, and functional medicine. He found a way to merge his two biggest passions—writing and health—and use them for noble purposes. His mission is to bridge the gap between science and everyday life, helping readers improve their health and feel better.

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