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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 234014, 24 pages
Review Article

Growth Hormone and Reproduction: A Review of Endocrine and Autocrine/Paracrine Interactions

1Department of Biology, Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1M 1Z7
2Centre de Recherche Clinique Etienne-Le Bel, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1H 5N4
3Department of Physiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2R3

Received 23 October 2014; Accepted 26 November 2014; Published 15 December 2014

Academic Editor: Maria L. Dufau

Copyright © 2014 Kerry L. Hull and Steve Harvey. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The somatotropic axis, consisting of growth hormone (GH), hepatic insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), and assorted releasing factors, regulates growth and body composition. Axiomatically, since optimal body composition enhances reproductive function, general somatic actions of GH modulate reproductive function. A growing body of evidence supports the hypothesis that GH also modulates reproduction directly, exerting both gonadotropin-dependent and gonadotropin-independent actions in both males and females. Moreover, recent studies indicate GH produced within reproductive tissues differs from pituitary GH in terms of secretion and action. Accordingly, GH is increasingly used as a fertility adjunct in males and females, both humans and nonhumans. This review reconsiders reproductive actions of GH in vertebrates in respect to these new conceptual developments.