Journal of the Endocrine Society Journal Article

Proteomic Signature of hGH

December 07, 2021
 

Max Esefeld, Antoni Pastor, Rafael de la Torre, Osquel Barroso, Reid Aikin, Hina Sarwath, Rudolf Engelke, Frank Schmidt, Karsten Suhre
Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 5, Issue 12, December 2021, bvab156
https://doi.org/10.1210/jendso/bvab156

Abstract

Objective

Administration of human growth hormone (hGH) is prohibited in competitive sport and its detection in an athlete’s sample triggers an adverse analytical finding. However, the biological processes that are modulated by recombinant hGH are not well characterized and associated blood serum proteins may constitute new biomarkers for hGH misuse.

Methods

Thirty-five recreational athletes were enrolled in a study to investigate the time- and dose-dependent response of serum protein levels to recombinant hGH administration. Participants were randomly assigned to 4 groups, receiving 1 of 3 different doses of recombinant hGH or a placebo. Bio samples were collected at 22 time points over a period of 13 weeks, starting 4 weeks before treatment, during 3 weeks of treatment, and at 6 weeks’ follow-up. A total of 749 serum samples were analyzed for 1305 protein markers using the SOMAscan proteomics platform.

Results

We identified 66 proteins that significantly associated with recombinant hGH administration and dosage, including well known hGH targets, such as IGF1, but also previously unknown hGH-related proteins (eg, protease inhibitors, WFIKKN1, and chemokines, CCL2). Network analysis revealed changes in specific biological pathways, mainly related to the immune system and glucose metabolism.

Conclusion

Our analysis suggests that hGH administration affects biological processes more strongly than previously acknowledged. Some of the proteins were dysregulated even after hGH treatment and could potentially be developed into biomarkers for hGH misuse. Moreover, our findings suggest new roles for hGH-associated proteins in the etiology of hGH-related diseases and may indicate new risks that may be associated with hGH misuse.

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