The enigmatic role of growth hormone in age-related diseases, cognition, and longevity

Gabriela Colon, Tatiana Saccon, Augusto Schneider, Marcelo B. Cavalcante, Derek M. Huffman, Darlene Berryman, Ed List, Yuji Ikeno, Nicolas Musi, Andrzej Bartke, John Kopchick, James L. Kirkland, Tamara Tchkonia, Michal M. Masternak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Growth hormone (GH) is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland and regulates various metabolic processes throughout the body. GH and IGF-1 levels are markedly reduced in older humans, leading some to hypothesize GH supplementation could be a viable “anti-aging” therapy. However, there is still much debate over the benefits and risks of GH administration. While an early study of GH administration reported reduced adiposity and lipid levels and increased bone mineral density, subsequent studies failed to show significant benefits. Conversely, other studies found positive effects of GH deficiency including extended life span, improved cognitive function, resistance to diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and improved insulin sensitivity despite a higher fat percentage. Thus, the roles of GH in aging and cognition remain unclear, and there is currently not enough evidence to support use of GH as an anti-aging or cognitive impairment therapy. Additional robust and longer-duration studies of efficacy and safety of GH administration are needed to determine if modulating GH levels could be a successful strategy for treating aging and age-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-774
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • GH deficiency
  • Growth hormone
  • IGF-1
  • Longevity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Aging
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)


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