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KL Hull and S Harvey

Growth hormone (GH) is not classically considered as a reproductive hormone, although a vast literature indicates that it has roles in reproductive function. It is required for sexual differentiation and pubertal maturation and it participates in gonadal steroidogenesis, gametogenesis and ovulation. GH is also required for fetal nutrition and growth during pregnancy and for mammary development and lactation. Although some of these roles reflect the action of GH on the secretion and action of LH and FSH (Chandrashekar and Bartke, 1998), they also reflect direct actions of GH and indirect actions mediated through the local production of insulin-like growth factor I. Moreover, as GH is produced in gonadal and mammary tissues, these actions may reflect local autocrine or paracrine actions of extrapituitary GH, as well as the endocrine actions of pituitary GH. The roles of GH in reproductive function are considered in this review.