Somatotropic cell

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Somatotropic cell
Code TH H3.
Anatomical terminology

Somatotropes are cells in the anterior pituitary that produce growth hormone (Somat/o=body troph/o=nourishment;development.)


Somatotropic cells constitute 30-40% of anterior pituitary cells. They release growth hormone (GH) in response to Growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH, or somatocrinin) or are inhibited by GHIH (somatostatin), both received from the hypothalamus via the hypophyseal portal system vein and the secondary plexus. Somatotrope cells are classified as acidophilic cells. These cells take years to grow and mature very slowly. If these cells grow large enough they can impair vision, cause headaches or damage other pituitary functions.

Hormone Deficiency[edit]

When levels of somatotropin are low in the body, a physician may prescribe human growth hormone as a drug—see Growth hormone treatment.

Deficiency in somatotrope secretion before puberty, or before the end of new bone tissue growth, can lead to pituitary dwarfism. When growth hormone is deficient, blood sugar is low because insulin is not opposed by normal amount of growth hormone. Dwarfs are usually well proportioned, but sometimes have a large head compared to the body.

Hormone Excess[edit]

If there is an excess of growth hormone it is usually because of over-secretion of somatotrope cells in the anterior pituitary gland. A significant amount of excess somatotrope secretion before puberty, or before the end of new bone tissue growth, can lead to gigantism. Gigantism is a disease that causes excess growth of body (e.g. being over 7 ft. tall) and unusually long limbs. An excess of secretion of growth hormone after puberty can lead to acromegaly. This is a disease that causes abnormal growth in the hands, head, jaw, and tongue. Some symptoms associated with acromegaly include heavy sweating, oily skin, improper processing of sugars in the diet (diabetes), high blood pressure, increased calcium in urine and swelling of the thyroid gland and arthritis


Bovine somatotropin occurs in the pituitary of cattle and differs in structure from human pituitary growth hormone and is biologically inactive in the human being. Bovine somatotropin aids in regulating the amount of milk produced. Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) is a hormone that is injected in cows that increases milk production.