Human growth hormone helps athletes after ACL injury, study says

The most common manifestation of an athlete is the development of an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) injury. It is said that one in 50 male athletes and one in 29 female athletes possibly suffer from ACL damage. This has put many athletes in despair and makes them ponder over their careers.

Human bone is made up of three bones and four major ligaments, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), lateral cruciate ligament (LCL), and medial cruciate ligament (MCL). These kinds of structures help the knee to be stable from sliding, rotating, and hyperextending during running, jumping. The ACL passes inside of the knee diagonally and is more prone to tear in general.

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A torn ACL can be reconstructed surgically and is considered as an effective way of approaching the treatment. But muscle weakness is often noticed after ACL surgery. It’s mainly due to the inactivity of muscle during rest after the surgical treatment. Experts say that the patients’ muscles have weakened up to 40 % when they return to sports. Bedi and Mendias from the University of Michigan revealed the use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in patients who had undergone ACL surgery. HGH, basically a hormone in the human body, stimulates cell growth and cell degeneration. HGH is banned by the World Anti-Doping agency as they increase the bulk of the muscles and tissues of the athletes who are about to run in the competition. But the study by the researchers has identified the clinical uses of HGH.

The study

Excluding the elite and Type-2 diabetes athletic patients, researchers examined 19 male athletes with ACL tear from Michigan Medicine. Randomly, the patients were injected with either HGH or a placebo solution into lower abdominal muscles twice daily, and this was followed for six weeks. They found that the HGH injection had a positive effect, and it leads to a 29% increase in knee extension strength when compared to the placebo group. When they analyzed their blood, they observed a 2.1-fold increase in insulin-like growth factor and a 36% reduction in the matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3). The insulin-like growth factor plays an important role in muscle growth, and MMP3 is an enzyme that breaks the protein during muscle growth. Later Mendias said that “this finding would suggest a potential protective effect of HGH after ACL reconstruction and that we should more closely at its potential for cartilage heating in further studies.”

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Future perspective

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People who experience an ACL injury are nine times more prone to develop degenerative osteoarthritis in the future. Strengthening the knee muscles not only helps the professional athletes to perform again in full vigor but also lessens the chance of getting the painful osteoarthritis. Still, there are a lot more works that remain uncovered by the researchers, and we expect more in the future.

Source: labblog.uofmhealth.org

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