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What’s the difference between human growth hormone and recombinant bovine somatotropin?
Growth hormone is growth hormone, isn’t it, or is it? There is a difference, and it’s a big one.
The difference is in species.
Endogenous or body-produced growth hormone in the human body is known as somatotropin. Synthetic human growth hormone (HGH) is known as somatropin.
Bovine implies cattle, and they produce growth hormone as well.
It too can be created synthetically utilizing recombinant DNA (rDNA) technologies, resulting in recombinant bovine somatotropin.
What Does Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin Do?
Recombinant bovine somatotropin is a type of synthetic growth hormone used on livestock.
It is similar – at least in manufacture – to synthetic or laboratory-created human growth hormone created and grown in a lab, which also utilizes rDNA technologies.
Recombinant DNA technologies is a process similar to cloning.
It uses a combination of one, two, or sometimes three or more separate strands of genetic material (DNA) from different sources.
These DNA fragments are combined or “recombined” to create a large amount of a component of a substance; in this case, a hormone.
Why is Growth Hormone Manufactured for Cattle?
In the cattle industry, recombinant bovine somatotropin – like human growth hormone – is also a peptide hormone that’s typically manufactured in the pituitary gland.
Endogenous cow growth hormone is known as bovine somatotropin (BST). Recombinant bovine somatotropin is not used in the treatment of a human growth deficiency.
Rather, and in the past, recombinant bovine somatotropin was used in the dairy industry to increase cow milk production.
Note: Recombinant bovine somatotropin is not typically by dairy farmers as it was in the past.
In dairy production, the development of bovine growth hormone using rDNA technology was also known as rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone).
Originally, this type of growth hormone for dairy cattle was approved in the early 1990s by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Effect of Bovine Growth Hormone on Humans
A number of concerns surrounded the use of growth hormone in dairy cows in the past, including the potential for increased risk of cancer and infections in the cow, which were treated with antibiotics.
Among the major concerns was the risk of humans developing antibiotic-resistant responses to bacteria.
A number of studies  determined long ago that neither endogenous nor synthetic bovine growth hormone had or has any effect on human growth hormone (HGH) receptors.
Growth factors triggered by growth hormone (such as IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor-1) increased only very slightly, and still less than any variations found in dairy milk caused by otherwise natural factors.
It was also determined that the slightly increased IGF-1 levels that could potentially be absorbed by the human body were actually found to be less than 1/10th of the otherwise normal synthesis of IGF-1 in the human adult body.
Recombinant bovine somatotropin was never, and never has been, intended for use by humans.
What’s the Difference Between the Two?
The chemical or molecular structure of normal or endogenous bovine growth hormone and recombinant bovine somatotropin in its chemical structure differ only by one amino acid.
Similarities exist between growth hormone produced by cows and humans.
They each have the capability of triggering secretions of growth factor such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), manufactured in the liver.
Would a bodybuilder benefit from injecting recombinant bovine somatotropin into the body? No, and doing so could be quite dangerous to the body’s own manufacture of growth hormone and functional processes.
The synthetic forms of this hormone different greatly: one is intended for human use and one is designed for use on animals.
Even though bovine growth hormone may be easier to find, and cheaper, introducing a non-species-specific growth hormone into the human body has a huge potential to trigger a number of negative immune system reactions, the least of which would be severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock.
Introducing a non-species-specific type of growth hormone into the body would likely cause severe disruptions of not only immune system function, but overall endocrine function.
Hormonal balances in humans must be carefully maintained. Any disruption of those levels can contribute to a number of serious side effects, not to mention the difficulty in getting those levels back to normal.
Side Effects of Humans using Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin
Even though recombinant bovine somatotropin has some similarities to synthetic human growth hormone (somatropin), they do differ.
They are not the same and are not designed to be used interchangeably between species.
Yes, some bodybuilders have succumbed to the curiosity of using bovine growth hormone, and yes, they experienced side effects; several have been noted on bodybuilding forum board discussion threads. Among the side effects described:
Massive welts (sign of systemic allergic reaction)
Immune system response such as fever, nausea, and diarrhea
Damage to body organs including the kidneys
It’s important to know the difference between recombinant bovine somatotropin and that produced by the human body, but don’t try to use it.