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The highs and lows of human growth

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The human body is a complex fusion of mechanical, electrical and pneumatic systems. The growth and degeneration of this complex system can be attributed to the activities of several hormones, for one. The physical growth of the body itself is governed by several hormones produced by different glands in our body. One type of hormones that play an active role in the growth of human body is Somatomedin and is a group of hormones which intermediate the growth of cells and tissues in our body. To be precise, they promote the growth and division of cells and thereby regulate the overall growth of the body in response to the growth hormone produced in Pituitary gland. There are three forms of the hormone and one of them is Somatomedin C.

How is it produced?

In the first place, growth hormones are produced in the anterior pituitary gland in the brain. These hormones enter the bloodstream and are transported to various parts of the body. When GH reaches the tissue, a reaction is triggered and Somatomedin C along with other forms of somatomedin is produced. It is predominantly produced by endocrine action in the liver stimulated by growth hormones but it is also produced in other parts of the body in paracrine or autocrine reactions. Because of its resemblance to the structure of insulin, it is also called as Insulin-like Growth Hormone I, IGH I.

What are its effects on human growth?

This hormone plays an important role in the regulation of growth and is very active during childhood growth. Its production varies at different stages of life but is produced throughout one’s lifetime. It is to be mentioned that although it is produced throughout a person’s lifetime, there is a spurt in the level of IGF I during puberty and the lowest level of the hormone is secreted during infancy and old age. The secretion depends on various factors such as gender, age, genetics, health status, the level of activity, ethnicity, race of a person and any form of malnutrition, an absence of Growth Hormone receptors can retard the function of the hormone.

Alarmingly low and high level of the hormone can lead to problems like dwarfism, acromegaly, gigantism etc which may, in turn, lead to further health complications. Stunted growth or excessive growth is a common effect in the case of discrepancy in the level of the hormone.

How can the level of hormone be tested?

The level of hormone in the body can be tested with a blood sample of the concerned person and is normally measured in ng/ml of blood. The profiling of the sample involves complex procedure.

Uses of the hormone:

  • The synthetic form of the hormone, Mecasermin, is used to treat a form of dwarfism called Laron syndrome by improving cell growth
  • It is also found to be useful in reversal of the degeneration of spinal cord nerve cells
  • It has been found to reduce the chances of stroke in humans.