Growth Hormones

Growth Hormones Lab Testing and health information

Do you lack growth hormone?

The growth hormone tests can assess your pituitary gland function, which may indicate a shortage.

GH tests are used to diagnose illnesses and problems caused by a lack of or excessive production of growth hormone (GH), assess pituitary function, and track the success of GH therapy.

Growth hormone is necessary for a child's appropriate development and growth, and it supports healthy linear bone growth from birth through puberty. GH regulates bone density, muscular mass, and lipid metabolism in adults, albeit it is not as active as in children. Deficiencies can result in lower bone density, lower muscular mass, and lipid imbalances. Adults with too much GH may develop acromegaly, characterized by bone thickening rather than bone lengthening. Skin tags and intestinal polyps can also be caused by too much GH. Acromegaly and gigantism, if left untreated, can result in consequences such as type 2 diabetes, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and, in general, a shorter lifespan.

For more information on growth hormone and lab testing, click here.

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Description: A growth hormone test is going to measure the amount of growth hormone in the body. It is used to determine if a person is deficient in growth hormone causing slowed growth. Less commonly, it can be used to determine if there is too much growth hormone causing gigantism or acromegaly.

Also Known As: GH Test, Growth Hormone GH, HGH Test, Human Growth Hormone (hGH), Somatotropin, Growth Hormone Stimulation Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: Patients should be fasting and have rested for at least 30 minutes prior to collection.

When is a Growth Hormone test ordered?

When a kid exhibits the following signs and symptoms of growth hormone insufficiency, GH testing is recommended.

  • A child's growth rate is slowed in early life
  • Delay in puberty compared to other children of the same chronological age
  • Bone growth is delayed 

Stimulation testing may be requested for an adult when there are symptoms of GHD and/or hypopituitarism, such as:

  • Bone density has decreased
  • Fatigue
  • Deficiencies in lipids, such as excessive cholesterol
  • Exercise tolerance is reduced

Other hormone testing, such as thyroid testing, is usually done first to rule out other causes of comparable symptoms. In both children and adults, GH deficiency is uncommon. If GH deficiency was detected in childhood or there is a history of hypothalamic or pituitary illness, it is conceivable in adults.

What does a Growth Hormone blood test check for?

Growth hormone is a hormone that is necessary for children's appropriate growth and development. From birth to adolescence, it promotes correct linear bone growth. Growth hormone regulates the rate at which the body produces energy from meals as well as lipids, proteins, and glucose in both children and adults. It also aids in the regulation of red blood cell formation and muscle mass.

The pituitary gland, a grape-sized gland behind the bridge of the nose at the base of the brain, produces growth hormone. It's released into the bloodstream in pulses throughout the day and night, with maxima occurring largely at night. As a result, a single measurement of GH in blood is difficult to interpret and is rarely relevant in clinical practice. If the sample is collected during a pulse, the value will be higher; if it is taken between pulses, the value will be lower. As a result, GH stimulation and suppression tests are frequently employed to detect GH anomalies.

GH insufficiency is a condition in which the body does not produce enough of

Insufficient GH production causes children to grow more slowly and to be smaller for their age. Some children are born with GH shortage, but others may develop a shortfall later in life as a result of a brain injury or tumor. These disorders can damage the pituitary gland, resulting in a reduction in pituitary function and decreased pituitary hormone production. The cause of a deficit is sometimes unknown.

Growth hormone is involved in the regulation of bone density, muscular mass, and glucose and lipid metabolism in adults. It can also have an impact on the heart and kidneys. Deficiencies might start in childhood or emerge later in life. Damage to the pituitary gland from a head injury, a brain tumor, surgery, or radiation treatment, for example, might create a deficit. Pituitary hormones may be reduced as a result of this. A GH deficit can cause a loss of bone density, muscle mass, and lipid levels to change. Adults with decreased bone density and/or muscle strength, as well as elevated lipids, are not routinely tested for GH insufficiency. These illnesses are caused by GH deficiency, which is a fairly unusual cause.

Excess GH

A GH-secreting pituitary tumor is the most common cause of excessive GH. Surgically removing the pituitary tumor that is producing the excess and/or treating it with medicines or radiation are frequently options. In most situations, GH and IGF-1 levels will revert to normal or near normal levels as a result of this.

In youngsters, too much GH can cause their long bones to continue to develop past puberty, culminating in gigantism, a rare disorder characterized by heights of 7 feet or more. Excess GH can cause face thickness, general weakness, delayed puberty, and headaches in those who have it.

Excess GH in adults can cause acromegaly, an uncommon disorder characterised by bone thickening rather than bone lengthening. Increased GH levels can lead to bigger hands and feet, expanded facial bones, carpal tunnel syndrome, and abnormally enlarged internal organs, despite symptoms like skin thickening, sweating, weariness, headaches, and joint discomfort being modest at first. Skin tags and intestinal polyps can also be caused by too much GH.

If neglected, acromegaly and gigantism can result in type 2 diabetes, a higher risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and, generally, a shorter lifespan.

Lab tests often ordered with a Growth Hormone test:

  • IGF-1
  • Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone
  • TSH
  • Free T3
  • Free T4
  • Cortisol
  • Glucose
  • Prolactin
  • IGF BP-3

Conditions where a Growth Hormone test is recommended:

  • Pituitary Disorders
  • Thyroid Disorders
  • Endocrine Syndromes

How does my health care provider use a Growth Hormone test?

Growth hormone testing is frequently done as a follow-up to other aberrant pituitary hormone test results in order to diagnose growth hormone insufficiency and evaluate pituitary gland function.

GH testing is also used to detect excess GH and to diagnose and track acromegaly and gigantism treatment.

Growth hormone is required for appropriate development and growth in children, as well as for the regulation of metabolism in both children and adults. GH is produced by the pituitary gland and released into the blood in pulses throughout the day.

Because growth hormone is released in pulses, a single blood level measurement is rarely useful in clinical practice. As a result, it's common to do tests to see if the pituitary is suppressing or stimulating growth hormone secretion.

GH stimulation tests are used to identify hypopituitarism and GH insufficiency. A sample of blood is collected after 10-12 hours of fasting for a stimulation test. The person is then given an intravenous solution of a chemical that generally stimulates the production of GH from the pituitary under under medical supervision. Blood is obtained at regular intervals and GH levels are measured to evaluate if the pituitary gland was stimulated to produce the desired levels of GH. The most common stimulant is arginine, but clonidine and glucagon are also utilized. Vigorous exercise, which generally induces an increase in GH, could be employed as a GH release stimulant.

GH suppression tests aid in the detection of GH excess. A blood sample is drawn after 10-12 hours of fasting for a suppression test. A standard glucose solution is then given to the person to drink. Blood samples are taken at regular intervals and examined for GH to evaluate if the glucose dose has suppressed the pituitary gland adequately.

Insulin-like growth factor-1 is produced in response to growth hormone. IGF-1 is a hormone that helps promote appropriate bone and tissue growth and development by mediating the effects of GH. Unlike GH, however, its blood level remains constant throughout the day. As a result, IGF-1 is a good indication of average GH levels, and the IGF-1 test is frequently used to diagnose GH shortage or excess.

A GH suppression test and IGF testing can also be used to track how well a GH-producing pituitary tumor is responding to treatment. If a tumor is found, the levels of GH and IGF-1 can be evaluated after it is removed to see if the tumor was completely eliminated. For years following, tests may be required at regular intervals to monitor GH production and detect tumor recurrence.

Prolactin, free T4, TSH, cortisol, FSH, LH, and testosterone are some of the other blood tests that can be used to assess pituitary gland function. These tests are routinely done before GH testing to ensure that they are normal and/or under control with medication before GH testing. Hypothyroidism, for example, must be treated before GH deficiency testing in children; otherwise, a falsely low GH result may be seen.

What do my growth hormone test results mean?

If the person has signs and symptoms of GHD and their GH levels are not significantly stimulated after a GH stimulation test, it is likely that they have a GH deficiency that the health practitioner can treat.

Thyroid issues can induce symptoms similar to GHD, therefore if the person's TSH and/or T4 levels are abnormal, it will likely be addressed first. Hypopituitarism and/or a general decline in pituitary function are also possible. GH deficiency tests should not be done until a person's thyroid function has been assessed. If a child has hypothyroidism, the condition should be addressed and the child's growth rate assessed before GH testing is considered.

If a person engages in rigorous exercise but does not see a rise in GH levels, they may have a GH deficiency. This discovery would need to be followed up with more testing.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Measurement of GH is primarily of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of various forms of inappropriate growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone measurements in children are used in the evaluation of short stature and help differentiate low GH production from other sources of growth failure. Stimulation and suppression tests are often more meaningful than random measurements.

Description: ACTH is a blood test that measures the amount of the adrenocorticotropic hormone in the body’s system. The results can be used to help diagnose or monitor a hormone imbalance or a specific condition or disease related to the pituitary gland.

Also Known As: Adrenocorticotropic Hormone Test, Corticotropin Test, Cosyntropin Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Plasma

Test Preparation: Collect specimen between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. If drawn at any other time, the reference ranges do not apply

When is an ACTH test ordered?

When a cortisol test reveals aberrant results or when someone has indications or symptoms of excess or inadequate cortisol, an ACTH test may be recommended.

Cortisol excess can induce the following symptoms:

  • Obesity
  • Fat between the shoulders
  • Red, rounded face
  • Skin that is fragile and thin
  • Purple lines on the abdomen
  • Muscle loss
  • Acne
  • Skin problems
  • Excessive body hair
  • Fatigue

High blood pressure, low potassium, high bicarbonate, high glucose levels, and occasionally diabetes are all common with these symptoms.

People with low cortisol levels may have symptoms such as:

  • Muscle wasting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of weight
  • Skin pigmentation increases, even in places not exposed to the sun
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Cravings for salt

Low blood pressure, low blood glucose, low sodium, high potassium, and high calcium are frequently found in conjunction with these symptoms.

Several of the following symptoms are commonly associated with hypopituitarism:

  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual cycle irregularity
  • Sexual organ dysfunction
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Urination during the night
  • Unprecedented weight loss
  • Hot flashes
  • sensitivity to cold

When a pituitary tumor causes symptoms, the affected person may also experience symptoms related to the compression of adjacent cells and nerves. The tumor, for example, can modify the pattern of headaches. It can also impair the nerves that control vision, creating symptoms like "tunnel vision," localized visual loss, or "double vision."

What does an ACTH blood test check for?

Adrenocorticotropic hormone is a hormone that promotes cortisol production. Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands that regulates glucose, protein, and lipid metabolism, suppresses the immune system's reaction, and aids in blood pressure regulation. This test determines how much ACTH is present in the blood.

The pituitary gland is responsible for producing ACTH. The pituitary gland is a network of glands that work together to create hormones that operate on organs, tissues, and other glands to govern systems throughout the body. It is located below the brain in the center of the head.

ACTH levels rise when cortisol levels are low and fall when cortisol levels are high. The hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone in response to a drop in blood cortisol levels. This causes the pituitary gland to produce ACTH, which in turn stimulates the adrenal glands, which are small organs at the top of each kidney, to produce cortisol. The brain, pituitary, and adrenal glands must all be operating properly in order to produce enough levels of cortisol.

Conditions affecting the hypothalamus, pituitary, or adrenal glands can disrupt the regulation of ACTH and cortisol production, causing the glands to generate more or less of the hormones. This can result in signs and symptoms linked with cortisol excess or insufficiency. Cushing disease, Addison disease, and hypopituitarism are all conditions that impact ACTH. Some tumors outside of the pituitary, such as those in the lungs, can also produce ACTH, which raises cortisol levels.

Lab tests often ordered with an ACTH test:

  • Cortisol
  • Cortrosyn Stimulation test
  • Dexamethasone Suppression Test
  • Androstenedione

Conditions where an ACTH test is recommended:

  • Addison Disease
  • Adrenal Insufficiency
  • Cushing Syndrome
  • Endocrine Syndromes

How does my health care provider use an ACTH test?

ACTH blood tests are used to detect, diagnose, and monitor problems related with excessive or deficient cortisol in the body, usually in conjunction with cortisol tests. These circumstances include:

  • Cushing disease is characterized by high cortisol levels caused by an ACTH-producing tumor in the pituitary gland.
  • Cushing syndrome refers to the symptoms and signs of high cortisol levels; it can be caused by an adrenal tumor, adrenal hyperplasia, steroid use, or an ACTH-producing tumor outside the pituitary, such as in the lungs.
  • Cortisol production is reduced in Addison disease due to adrenal gland injury.
  • Secondary adrenal insufficiency: pituitary dysfunction causes decreased cortisol production.
  • Hypopituitarism is pituitary dysfunction or injury that causes the pituitary to produce less hormones, notably ACTH.

Because the level of ACTH generally varies in the opposite direction of the level of cortisol, measuring both can assist distinguish between some of these diseases.

If abnormal levels are found, a healthcare professional will do additional testing to confirm the results and discover the cause.

What do my ACTH test results mean?

The interpretation of the results can be difficult in many circumstances. ACTH and cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. ACTH levels are normally highest in the morning and lowest at night. It will increase cortisol production, which will follow the same daily rhythm as ACTH but rise later in the day and fall later in the evening. This diurnal rhythm is frequently disrupted by conditions that influence ACTH and cortisol synthesis.

ACTH and cortisol patterns associated with various illnesses of the adrenal and pituitary glands.

An adrenal tumor, steroid treatment, or hypopituitarism can all cause a reduction in ACTH.

Cushing disease and ectopic ACTH cannot be reliably distinguished from cortisol and ACTH measurements alone. Other tests are also performed to aid healthcare providers in determining this distinction. When some medications are given to promote or repress hormone synthesis, testing the change in cortisol levels might assist the healthcare practitioner establish the correct diagnosis.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


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Description: Insulin-like growth factor is a test that is testing for the amount of IGF in the blood. It is used to determine if there is a lack of IGF, causing growth to be slow and underdeveloped for the age, or less likely and excesses causing too much growth for the age. It can also be used to monitor growth hormone treatments.

Also Known As: Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 Test, Somatomedin-C Test, IGF1 Test, IGF-I Test, IGF Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a IGF-1 test ordered?

IGF-1 testing is ordered in conjunction with a GH stimulation test when:

  • A youngster has GH deficient signs such as delayed growth and reduced stature.
  • Impaired bone density, weariness, undesirable changes in cholesterol levels, and reduced exercise tolerance are among the symptoms that a health practitioner suspects are caused by a GH deficit in adults. However, in adults with these symptoms, testing for IGF-1 insufficiency is not standard; GH and IGF-1 deficiency are both extremely rare causes of these illnesses.

When a doctor suspects someone has an underactive pituitary gland, an IGF-1 test may be requested, as well as at regular intervals to monitor individuals on GH medication.

When a child develops symptoms of gigantism or an adult shows evidence of acromegaly, IGF-1 testing may be requested along with a GH suppression test.

When a GH-producing pituitary tumor is discovered, GH and IGF-1 tests are performed after the tumor has been surgically removed to see if all of the tumor has been eliminated. When someone is enduring the medication and/or radiation therapy that usually follows tumor resection, IGF-1 is also ordered at regular intervals.

IGF-1 levels can be tested at regular intervals for many years to track a person's GH production and look for recurrence of a pituitary tumor.

What does a a IGF-1 blood test check for?

Insulin-like growth factor-1 is a hormone that, together with growth hormone, aids in the normal growth and development of bones and tissues. The test determines how much IGF-1 is present in the blood.

In response to GH stimulation, the liver and skeletal muscle, as well as many other tissues, create IGF-1. Many of GH's activities are mediated by IGF-1, which promotes the growth of bones and other tissues as well as the synthesis of lean muscle mass. It's difficult to interpret the findings of a single GH test because GH is released into the blood in pulses throughout the day. IGF-1 levels are similar to GH excesses and deficiencies, however unlike GH, they are steady throughout the day. As a result, IGF-1 can be used to estimate average GH levels. As a result, the IGF-1 test is frequently used to determine if a person has GH deficit or excess.

IGF-1 levels, like GH, start low in early childhood, progressively rise throughout childhood, peak at puberty, and then fall in adulthood. A malfunctioning pituitary gland with diminished pituitary hormones or the presence of a non-GH-producing pituitary tumor that destroys hormone-producing cells can induce GH and IGF-1 deficiencies. Where there is a lack of response to GH, IGF-1 deficiencies can also emerge. Conditions such as starvation, hypothyroidism, sex hormone insufficiency, and chronic disorders can cause this insensitivity. Genetic GH insensitivity is quite uncommon.

Early-life IGF-1 deficit, which is usually caused by GH shortage, can stifle bone growth and development, resulting in a child who is shorter than average in stature. Reduced production in adults can result in a loss of bone density, muscular mass, and lipid levels. Adults with lower bone density and/or muscle strength, as well as elevated lipids, are not routinely tested for IGF-1 deficiency, or GH deficit. A extremely rare cause of these illnesses is GH deficit, which leads to IGF-1 deficiency.

Excess GH and IGF-1 can induce acromegaly and gigantism, two rare disorders characterized by abnormal skeleton growth and other signs and symptoms. Gigantism causes bones to grow longer in children, resulting in a person who is unusually tall and has huge feet and hands. Acromegaly is a condition that causes bones to thicken and soft tissues, such as the nose, to enlarge in adults. Both disorders can cause organ enlargement, such as the heart, as well as additional problems like type 2 diabetes, a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and a shorter lifespan.

A GH-producing pituitary tumor is the most common cause of excessive GH secretion in the pituitary. Surgical removal of the tumor and/or treatment with medicines or radiation are frequently options. In most situations, GH and IGF-1 levels will revert to normal or near normal levels as a result of this.

Lab tests often ordered with a IGF-1 test:

  • Growth Hormone
  • Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone
  • Glucose
  • Glucose Tolerance Tests
  • Total T4
  • Free T4
  • IGFBP-3

Conditions where a IGF-1 test is recommended:

  • Pituitary Disorders
  • Endocrine Syndromes
  • PCOS

How does my health care provider use a IGF-1 test?

An insulin-like growth factor-1 test may be used to:

  • It may be ordered in conjunction with GH stimulation testing to provide extra information a s a follow-up to abnormal hormone test findings
  • Examine the function of the pituitary gland.

IGF-1 tests are less usually used to detect excess growth hormone and to diagnose and monitor the therapy of acromegaly and gigantism, two rare diseases.

IGF-1 is a hormone that, along with growth hormone, aids in the normal growth and development of bone and tissue. Along with GH, an IGF-1 test is frequently requested. IGF-1 reflects GH excesses and deficiencies, but its blood level remains constant throughout the day, making it a good measure of typical GH levels.

IGF-1 may be ordered in conjunction with other pituitary hormone assays, such as prolactin, FSH, and LH, to aid in the diagnosis of pituitary gland malfunction and low pituitary hormone levels.

A GH-producing pituitary tumor can be detected and treated using IGF-1 testing and a GH suppression test. Imaging scans that help identify and pinpoint the tumor are usually used to confirm an anterior pituitary tumor. If surgery is required, GH and IGF-1 levels are evaluated after the tumor has been removed to see if the tumor was completely eliminated. To try to reduce GH production and bring IGF-1 to a normal or near-normal concentration, drug and/or radiation therapy may be used in addition to, or sometimes instead of, surgery. IGF-1 may be ordered at regular intervals for years following treatment to monitor GH production and detect tumor recurrence and to monitor the success of this therapy.

The measurement of GH and IGF-1 levels can also provide information about GH insensitivity. If the IGF-1 level is found to be normal for age and sex before completing definitive GH testing, GH insufficiency is ruled out and conclusive testing is not required.

What do my IGF-1 test results mean?

A normal IGF-1 level must be viewed in context. Even if a person has a GH shortage, their IGF-1 level can be normal.

If the IGF-1 level is low, it's likely that you have a GH deficiency or a GH insensitivity. If this occurs in a child, the GH shortage may already have resulted in low height and delayed development, which can be corrected with GH supplementation. Adults will see a decline in production as they get older, but lower than normal levels could indicate a GH deficiency or insensitivity.

If a drop in IGF-1 is thought to be the result of a more general loss in pituitary function, multiple other endocrine glands and their pituitary-regulating chemicals will need to be assessed before treatment can be determined. Reduced pituitary function can occur as a result of genetic abnormalities or as a result of pituitary injury caused by trauma, infections, or inflammation.

Nutritional deficits, chronic kidney or liver disease, inactive/ineffective forms of GH, and excessive estrogen dosages can all cause IGF-1 levels to drop.

Greater IGF-1 levels usually imply increased GH synthesis. IGF-1 levels are a representation of average GH production, not the actual quantity of GH in the blood at the time the sample for the IGF-1 measurement was obtained, because GH levels vary throughout the day. This is correct up until the liver's capacity for IGF-1 production is achieved. The IGF-1 level will stabilize at an enhanced maximal level with drastically increased GH production.

Increased GH and IGF-1 levels are typical throughout puberty and pregnancy, although pituitary tumors are the most common cause.

If IGF-1 levels remain elevated after a pituitary tumor has been surgically removed, the surgery may not have been completely successful. The treatment is reducing GH production if IGF-1 levels decrease with successive medication and/or radiation therapies. If IGF-1 levels return to "normal," the person is no longer making excessive amounts of GH. An increase in IGF-1 levels may suggest a return of the pituitary tumor when someone is being monitored for a long time.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


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Description: A prolactin test is a blood test that measures the Prolactin levels in your blood's serum, and it is useful in identifying unexplained problems with breastfeeding, menstrual cycles, and infertility.

Also Known As: PRL Test, Prolactin Blood test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Prolactin test ordered?

Prolactin testing may be requested in the following situations:

  • If someone is experiencing prolactinoma symptoms such as inexplicable headaches, breast nipple discharge, and or vision impairment.
  • Infertility or irregular menstrual periods in a woman.
  • A male that has low testosterone or has signs such as diminished sex drive, nipple discharge, or infertility.

When a person has a prolactinoma, prolactin levels may be requested on a regular basis to track the tumor's progress and response to treatment. They may also be ordered at regular intervals to check for the return of prolactinoma.

When a doctor suspects a person has a pituitary condition such hypopituitarism, prolactin levels, as well as other hormone levels like growth hormone, may be requested.

Prolactin concentrations are sometimes measured when a person has an illness or is receiving medication that may impair dopamine production.

What does a Prolactin blood test check for?

The anterior region of the pituitary gland, a grape-sized structure located at the base of the brain, produces prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone that promotes lactation and is found in low concentrations in men and non-pregnant women. This test determines how much prolactin is present in the blood.

Dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter, regulates and inhibits prolactin release. Prolactin levels are typically high throughout pregnancy and shortly after childbirth. The hormones prolactin, estrogen, and progesterone enhance the production of breast milk during pregnancy. Prolactin aids in the initiation and maintenance of breast milk supply after childbirth. If a woman does not breastfeed, her prolactin level quickly returns to pre-pregnancy levels if she does not nurse. Suckling by the infant has a vital function in the release of prolactin if she does nurse. The amount of prolactin emitted by the pituitary, as well as the amount of milk produced, have a feedback system.

A prolactinoma, a pituitary gland tumor that generates excessive prolactin production, is a common cause of an unusually raised prolactin level. The most frequent type of pituitary tumor is prolactinoma, which is usually benign. They are more common in women, but they can also be found in men. The size and location of the tumor, as well as the unintended effects of excess prolactin, such as milk production in a woman who is not pregnant or nursing and, occasionally, in a man, can cause problems.

When the anterior pituitary gland and/or tumor grow large enough, they can put pressure on the optic nerve, causing headaches and visual abnormalities, as well as interfering with the pituitary gland's other hormones. Prolactinomas in women can induce infertility and menstrual abnormalities, while in men, they might cause a gradual loss of sexual function and libido. Prolactinomas can cause damage to the surrounding tissues if they are not treated.

Lab tests often ordered with a Prolactin test:

  • FSH
  • LH
  • Testosterone
  • DHEA-S
  • Estrogen
  • Estradiol
  • Estrone
  • Estriol
  • Progesterone
  • Androstenedione

Conditions where a Prolactin test is recommended:

  • Pituitary Disorders
  • Infertility
  • Pregnancy
  • PCOS
  • Thyroid Diseases

Commonly Asked Questions:

How does my health care provider use a Prolactin test?

Prolactin levels can be used for a variety of purposes. Prolactin is a hormone generated by the pituitary gland, and its major function is to assist pregnant and nursing women in initiating and maintaining breast milk production.

Prolactin testing, in combination with other hormone tests, may be used to:

  • Determine what is causing the production of breast milk that isn't related to pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Find out what's causing men's infertility and erectile problems.
  • Determine the reason of a woman's menstrual irregularity and/or infertility.
  • Detect and diagnose prolactinomas, track their therapy, and look for recurrences.
  • Examine anterior pituitary function or any other pituitary problems.

What do my prolactin test results mean?

Prolactin levels in the blood of men and nonpregnant women are usually very low. Prolactin levels must be analyzed according to the time of day they are taken. Over the course of a 24-hour period, the levels will rise during sleep and peak in the morning. A person's blood should be drawn 3 to 4 hours after they wake up.

During pregnancy and while the mother is nursing, a high amount of prolactin is typical.

High prolactin levels can also be noticed in the following:

  • Prolactin-producing and -releasing tumors
  • Eating disorders such as  anorexia nervosa
  • Hypothalamic diseases
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Other tumors and disorders of the pituitary gland

Low levels of prolactin are not normally treated, but they could indicate a general decline in pituitary hormones caused by a pituitary condition such hypopituitarism.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


Prolactin is a single-chain polypeptide hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary under the control of prolactin-releasing factors. These inhibiting and releasing factors are secreted by the hypothalamus. Prolactin is also synthesized by the placenta and is present in amniotic fluid. Prolactin initiates and maintains lactation in females. It also plays a role in regulating gonadal function in both males and females. In adults, basal circulating prolactin is present in concentrations up to 30 ng/mL. During pregnancy and postpartum lactation, serum prolactin can increase 10- to 20-fold. Exercise, stress, and sleep also cause transient increases in prolactin levels. Consistently elevated serum prolactin levels (>30 ng/mL), in the absence of pregnancy and postpartum lactation, are indicative of hyperprolactinemia, which is the most common hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction encountered in clinical endocrinology. Hyperprolactinemia often results in galactorrhea, amenorrhea, and infertility in females, and in impotence and hypogonadism in males. Renal failure, hypothyroidism, and prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels.

During pregnancy and postpartum lactation, serum prolactin can increase 10 to 20-fold. Exercise, stress, and sleep also cause transient increases in prolactin levels. Consistently elevated serum prolactin levels (greater than 30 ng/mL), in the absence of pregnancy and postpartum lactation, are indicative of hyperprolactinemia. Hypersecretion of prolactin can be caused by pituitary adenomas, hypothalamic disease, breast or chest wall stimulation, renal failure or hypothyroidism. A number of drugs, including many antidepressants, are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels. Hyperprolactinemia often results in galactorrhea, amenorrhea, and infertility in females, and impotence and hypogonadism in males. Renal failure, hypothyroidism, and prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels.

During pregnancy and postpartum lactation, serum prolactin can increase 10 to 20-fold. Exercise, stress, and sleep also cause transient increases in prolactin levels. Consistently elevated serum prolactin levels (greater than 30 ng/mL), in the absence of pregnancy and postpartum lactation, are indicative of hyperprolactinemia. Hypersecretion of prolactin can be caused by pituitary adenomas, hypothalamic disease, breast or chest wall stimulation, renal failure or hypothyroidism. A number of drugs, including many antidepressants, are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels. Hyperprolactinemia often results in galactorrhea, amenorrhea, and infertility in females, and impotence and hypogonadism in males. Renal failure, hypothyroidism, and prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels.

During pregnancy and postpartum lactation, serum prolactin can increase 10 to 20-fold. Exercise, stress, and sleep also cause transient increases in prolactin levels. Consistently elevated serum prolactin levels (greater than 30 ng/mL), in the absence of pregnancy and postpartum lactation, are indicative of hyperprolactinemia. Hypersecretion of prolactin can be caused by pituitary adenomas, hypothalamic disease, breast or chest wall stimulation, renal failure or hypothyroidism. A number of drugs, including many antidepressants, are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels. Hyperprolactinemia often results in galactorrhea, amenorrhea, and infertility in females, and impotence and hypogonadism in males. Renal failure, hypothyroidism, and prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas are also common causes of abnormally elevated prolactin levels.

Somatostatin

Clinical Significance

Somatostatin is a neurohormone produced in the brain, hypothalamus and gastrointestinal tract. This test is used to diagnose somatostatin-producing tumors. Elevated levels are observed with somatostatinoma, medullary thyroid carcinoma and pheochromocytoma.


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Description: A TSH test is a blood test that measures thyroid stimulating hormone levels in your blood’s serum and is used to screen for and monitor treatment of thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Also Known As: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test, Thyrotropin Test, TSH test, Thyroid Test, TSH Screen Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a TSH test ordered?

When a person has symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, or an enlarged thyroid gland, a doctor may order a TSH test.

Hyperthyroidism can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Heart rate has increased.
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of weight
  • Sleeping problems
  • Hand tremors.
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Visual disturbances, light sensitivity
  • Puffiness around the eyes, dryness, discomfort, and, in some cases, bulging of the eyes are all possible side effects.

Hypothyroidism can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • gaining weight
  • Skin that is dry
  • Constipation
  • Intolerance to the cold
  • Skin that is puffy
  • Hair loss is a common problem.
  • Fatigue
  • Women's menstrual irregularities

When a person is being treated for a thyroid disease, TSH may be ordered at regular intervals. The American Thyroid Association suggests waiting 6-8 weeks after changing a person's thyroid medication dose before testing their TSH level again.

In the United States, TSH screening is routinely performed on newborns shortly after birth as part of each state's newborn screening program.

What does a TSH blood test check for?

The pituitary gland, a small structure beneath the brain and beyond the sinus cavities, produces thyroid-stimulating hormone. TSH causes thyroxine and triiodothyronine to be released into the bloodstream by the thyroid gland. These thyroid hormones aid in the regulation of the body's energy usage. This test determines how much TSH is present in the blood.

The feedback mechanism that the body utilizes to maintain consistent quantities of thyroid hormones in the blood includes TSH and its regulatory hormone, thyrotropin releasing hormone, which comes from the hypothalamus. TSH synthesis by the pituitary gland increases as thyroid hormone concentrations fall. TSH stimulates the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland that lays flat against the windpipe at the base of the throat, to produce and release T4 and T3. Thyroid production turns on and off to maintain generally steady levels of thyroid hormones in the blood when all three organs are operating regularly.

When the thyroid produces excessive amounts of T4 and T3, the affected person may have hyperthyroidism symptoms such as high heart rate, weight loss, agitation, hand tremors, itchy eyes, and difficulty sleeping. The most prevalent cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves disease. It is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the immune system creates antibodies that mimic TSH, causing the thyroid hormone to be produced in excessive levels. As a result, the pituitary gland may produce less TSH, resulting in a low blood level.

Weight gain, dry skin, constipation, cold intolerance, and weariness are all symptoms of hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid produces fewer thyroid hormones. In the United States, Hashimoto thyroiditis is the most prevalent cause of hypothyroidism. It's an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid, causing inflammation and destruction as well as the generation of autoantibodies. The thyroid generates low levels of thyroid hormone in Hashimoto thyroiditis. The pituitary gland may create more TSH, resulting in a high blood level.

TSH values, on the other hand, do not necessarily indicate or predict thyroid hormone levels. TSH is produced abnormally in some persons and does not work properly. Despite having normal or modestly increased TSH values, they frequently develop hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone levels can be high or low in a variety of thyroid illnesses, regardless of the amount of TSH in the blood.

TSH levels may be elevated or lowered in rare cases due to pituitary dysfunction. In addition to pituitary dysfunction, an issue with the hypothalamus can cause hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

Lab tests often ordered with a TSH test:

  • T3 Free
  • T3 Total
  • T4 Free
  • T4 Total
  • T3 Reverse
  • T3 Uptake
  • Thyroid Peroxidase
  • Thyroglobulin Antibodies
  • Thyroid Panel

Conditions where a test TSH is recommended:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hashimotos
  • Graves’ Disease
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Thyroid Cancer

Commonly Asked Questions:

How does my health care provider use a TSH test?

Thyroid function and/or symptoms of a thyroid problem, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, are frequently assessed with the thyroid-stimulating hormone test.

The pituitary gland, a small structure beneath the brain and beyond the sinus cavities, produces TSH. It's a part of the body's feedback system that keeps the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine in check and helps regulate the pace at which the body burns calories.

TSH tests are typically ordered in conjunction with or before a free T4 test. A free T3 test and thyroid antibodies are two further thyroid tests that can be ordered. TSH, free T4, and free T3 are sometimes ordered as part of a thyroid panel.

TSH is used to:

  • Diagnose a thyroid issue in a patient who is experiencing symptoms.
  • Check newborns for an underactive thyroid.
  • Monitor thyroid replacement therapy.
  • Monitor treatment of hyperthyroidism that involves medication.
  • Assist women in diagnosing and monitoring infertility issues.
  • Assist in determining the pituitary gland's function
  • Screen adults for thyroid issues and diseases.

What does my TSH blood test result mean?

A high TSH level could indicate that:

  • The person being examined has an underactive thyroid gland that isn't responding well to TSH stimulation owing to acute or chronic thyroid dysfunction.
  • If a person has hypothyroidism or has had their thyroid gland removed, the dose of thyroid hormone replacement medicine may need to be changed.
  • A patient with hyperthyroidism is taking too much anti-thyroid medication, and the dosage needs to be reduced.
  • There is a problem with the pituitary gland, such as a tumor that causes TSH levels to be out of control.

A low TSH level could imply the following:

  • An overactive thyroid gland
  • Thyroid hormone prescription taken in excess by patients being treated for an underactive thyroid gland.
  • Inadequate medication in an individual being treated for hyperthyroidism; nevertheless, after successful anti-thyroid treatment, TSH production may take a time to recover. This is why the American Thyroid Association recommends testing for thyroid hormones as well as TSH levels throughout treatment.
  • The pituitary gland has been damaged, preventing it from releasing enough TSH.

An abnormal TSH result, whether high or low, suggests an excess or deficiency in the quantity of thyroid hormone available to the body, but does not pinpoint the cause for the abnormal result. Additional testing is frequently performed after an abnormal TSH test result to determine the reason of the increase or decrease.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.


Human Transforming Growth Factor beta 1 (TGF-b1)

Clinical Significance

Human Transforming Growth Factor beta 1 (TGF-b1) - Transforming Growth Factor (TGF) plays a crucial role in tissue regeneration, cell differentiation, embryonic development, and regulation of the immune system. Transforming growth factor beta is found in hematopoietic (blood-forming) tissue and initiates a signaling pathway that suppresses the early development of cancer cells. It enhances the deposition of extracellular matrix and may play potential role in wound healing and cirrhosis formation. Many cells synthesize TGF-b and almost all of them have specific receptors for this peptide.

Reference Range(s)

344-2382 pg/mL

 

 



About 1 in 6,000 children and nearly 50,000 total adults in the United States suffer from a growth hormone deficiency.

Have you ever wondered: "am I growth hormone-deficient?"

A growth hormone deficiency can be a dangerous medical condition if not diagnosed and treated correctly. If you're not sure if you have one, you should get a growth hormone test right away to be sure!

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about growth hormone tests.

What Is the Growth Hormone Deficiency?

A growth hormone deficiency (GHD) is when your pituitary gland is not producing enough of the growth hormone the body needs. 

Most commonly found in children, a growth hormone deficiency is almost always congenital. This means that you would be born with it. It is possible that it could be due to trauma, called Acquired GHD, or Idiopathic GHD, which is when a patient's GHD has no apparent cause.

Growth hormone lab tests are the only way to be certain that GHD is what is happening within the body.

Risk Factors and Causes of Growth Hormone Deficiency

Most of the time, the cause of a growth hormone deficiency is due to a genetic disorder for GHD. Deficiency in children is more common than in adults, as most are born with it. Idiopathic GHD most likely has been present from birth and has gone unnoticed. 

However, if it is developed later in life, it may be the result of trauma, infection, radiation therapy, or tumor growth within the brain. Usually, this tumor growth is near the pituitary gland.

Signs & Symptoms of Growth Hormone Deficiency

In infants, the first sign a pediatrician will look for is delayed growth. Low blood sugar and abnormally sized genitals can also be one of the first signs. Delayed bone growth, facial structure growth abnormalities, and other signs are also common in infants and children. 

An essential period is during the first 6-12 months of life. Your pediatrician will make sure that the growth rates are normal and haven't decreased more than 10 percent. 

In adults, GHD will present itself as increased fat in the abdomen with decreased muscle mass. Depression, anxiety, low energy levels, poor concentration, and abnormal LDL Cholesterol levels can also be signs of GHD. 

Get a Diagnosis: Growth Hormone Tests

A phlebotomist will draw blood for a growth hormone stimulation test. The blood samples will provide a biomarker level in the test results that will read normal, low, or high.

The phlebotomist will collect a blood sample for your growth hormone blood panel. The lab will test GH levels and an insulin-like growth factor, and a Z Score in females.

Abnormal levels in these tests will indicate a growth hormone deficiency or normal levels of the hormone.

Treatment & Prognosis

Treatment for anyone with GHD is going through hormone replacement therapy. The hormone replacement is injected into a fatty area of the body. The GH levels will continue to be monitored via blood tests and medication adjusted accordingly.

In children, their hormones will be increased around puberty and will taper off once the body can make enough of its own growth hormone. Treatment could last for their entire life, as everyone's body is different. Adults will likely have hormone replacement for the entirety of their lives.

People with GHD can live a normal lifestyle as long as their hormones are monitored and replacement therapy is adjusted as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Growth Hormone Deficiency

As with any medical condition, GHD comes with a lot of questions. These are the most commonly asked questions about growth hormone deficiencies.

What Causes Growth Hormone Deficiencies?

Growth Hormone Deficiencies are usually congenital, but they can also be caused by trauma or a tumor growth on the pituitary gland. There are also instances where a cause is not found. 

Am I Growth Hormone-Deficient?

If you are experiencing symptoms of adult-onset GHD, including increased belly fat, abnormalities in cholesterol levels, decreased muscle strength, or another symptom, then it is worth talking to your doctor or ordering the tests yourself through Ulta Lab Tests.

If you believe your child has a growth hormone deficiency, you should get them a test right away to help monitor their symptoms.

Where Can I Get a GH Test?

You can search for a patient service center on our website. We have locations in every state in the US, with the exception of New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

How Is GHD treated?

GHD is treated by hormone replacement therapy. This is a shot usually given daily.

Can You Cure GHD?

GHD isn't considered curable. It is treated until the body can make appropriate levels of its own growth hormone.

How Common Are Growth Hormone Deficiencies?

Growth hormone deficiencies are found in about 1 in every 6000 babies. About 50,000 adults in the United States have a growth hormone deficiency. 

What Are the Side Effects of Grown Hormone Replacement?

Side effects of growth hormone replacement therapy can include high cholesterol, low blood sugar, enlarged heart, muscle and nerve pain, swelling of the arms and legs, and more. Know that if your doctor has decided that growth hormone replacement therapy is right for you, they have decided that the risks outweigh the damage that may be done without the therapy. 

What Does the Growth Hormone Do in Adults?

In adults, the growth hormone helps regulate body fat, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels. It is also necessary for proper brain function. 

Benefits of Growth Hormone Deficiency Lab Testing with Ulta Lab Tests

If you think you or your child may have a growth hormone deficiency, contact your doctor! You can also take matters into your own hands and order tests through Ulta Lab Tests right now!

Ulta Lab Tests offers highly accurate and reliable tests, so you can make informed decisions about your health. Here are a few great things to love about Ulta Lab Tests:

  • You'll get secure and confidential results
  • You don't need health insurance
  • You don't need a physician's referral
  • You'll get affordable pricing
  • We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee

Order your growth hormone tests today, and your results will be provided to you securely and confidentially online in 24 to 48 hours for most tests.

Take control with Ulta Lab Tests today!