Journal of Applied Physiology

Body composition response to exogenous GH during training in highly conditioned adults

D. M. Crist, G. T. Peake, P. A. Egan, D. L. Waters


The effects of biosynthetic methionyl-human growth hormone (met-hGH) on body composition and endogenous secretion of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) were studied in eight well-trained exercising adults between 22 and 33 yr of age. By the use of double-blind procedures, met-hGH (2.67 mg/0.5 ml diluent, 3 days/wk) and bacteriostatic water (placebo, 0.5 ml, 3 days/wk) were administered in a repeated-measures design that counterbalanced treatment order. Duration of each treatment was 6 wk. Subjects trained with progressive resistance exercise throughout and were maintained on a high-protein diet monitored by extensive compositional analyses of daily dietary intake records. Hydrodensitometry revealed that met-hGH significantly decreased percent body fat (%fat) and increased fat-free weight (FFW) and FFW/fat weight (FW), whereas the placebo treatment did not change any of these measures. Changes in FFW/FW correlated with the relative dose of met-hGH but did not correlate with either the peak GH response to L-dopa/arginine stimulation or IGF-I levels obtained after treatment with placebo. There were no differences between treatments in the dietary intakes of total kilocalories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Mean IGF-I levels were elevated after treatment with met-hGH compared with postplacebo levels. After treatment with met-hGH, five of seven subjects had a suppressed GH response to stimulation from either L-dopa/arginine or submaximal exercise. We conclude that supraphysiological doses of met-hGH will alter body composition in exercising adults in a relative dose-dependent manner and that such treatment may suppress endogenous release of GH in some individuals.