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Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) 101

Written by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Last updated:

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Source: http://www.nature.com/nrendo/journal/v4/n1/fig_tab/ncpendmet0677_F3.html

Growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) has many positive effects on the human body, especially for young adults who are suffering from growth issues. Read more below to learn about both the positives and negatives of this hormone.

What are Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormones?

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

GHRH can have many positive effects on cells, tissues, and muscle systems. However, in certain diseases and cancers, GHRH can serve as promoters for the spread of the disease.

Positive Effects of GHRH

1) Protects the Heart

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 [2].

In mice suffering from radiation-induced heart cell damage, GHRH relieved and protected damaged cells [3].

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 [4].

In large swine who have had lab-induced heart attacks, daily injections of GHRH post-heart attack reduced the scar tissue buildup in the heart and decreased strain [5].

In rat hearts, GHRH promotes the activation of a kinase that helps protect cardiac cells [6].

2) Improves Muscle Health

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 muscle atrophy [9].

In yaks suffering from growth retardation, administering GHRH increased the release of growth hormone, increasing muscle area, which accelerated 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 improves 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) Heals Wounds

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) Lowers Chances of Childhood Obesity

Young adults suffering from Prader-Willi syndrome have high risks of developing diabetes, obesity, and heart disease at a young age, increasing 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 decreased levels of pituitary functions, 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].

8) Provides HIV Symptom Relief

In patients suffering from HIV-associated lipodystrophy (a fat disorder), fat metabolism is decreased. Treatment with GHRH and growth hormones decreased fat tissue and helped build lean body mass with exercise [20].

Negative Effects of GHRH

1) Promotes Cancer and Disease

In human tumoral prostate epithelial cells, GHRH promotes cancer cell proliferation and growth [21].

Patients suffering from pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors (NET) have elevated levels of GHRH that further promote the symptoms of NET [22].

Humans suffering from malignant mixed Mullerian tumors have increased levels of GHRH that increase the size and proliferation of these tumors [23].

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 [24].

Humans suffering from papillary thyroid cancer have increased levels of GHRH that promote cancer symptoms by promoting the expression of SV1 in tumor cells [25].

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 [26].

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 [27].

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 [28].

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 [29].

2) Increases Diabetes Symptom

Rats who have lab-induced Type 1 diabetes have increased GHRH receptors in the small intestine, promoting the formation of chylomicrons. Chylomicrons increase symptoms of Type 1 diabetes, leading to chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular issues [30].

3) Increases Fat Levels

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. High GHRH levels increase fat dysfunction as well [31].

Treatments of GHRH can decrease ghrelin, leptin, and adiponectin which increase overall fat levels and increase issues with metabolism [32].

4) Inhibits Memory Formation

GHRH impairs hippocampal memory processing and formation. This inhibits memory formation [33].

5) Promotes Eye Disease

Eye inflammation is the cause of many eye diseases in elderly patients. An increase of GHRH receptors in the iris and the ciliary body was shown to promote macrophages and leukocytes, increasing inflammation and decreasing the vision of the patient [34].


In all types of sports, GHRH has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency due to their effects on players, giving them an unfair advantage [35].

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 [36].

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About the Author

Helen Quach

BS (Biochemistry)

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