European Journal of Endocrinology

 Decorin, a growth hormone-regulated protein in humans

Growth hormone (GH) stimulates connective tissue and muscle growth, an effect that is potentiated by testosterone. Decorin, a myokine and a connective tissue protein, stimulates connective tissue accretion and muscle hypertrophy. Whether GH and testosterone regulate decorin in humans is not known.


To determine whether decorin is stimulated by GH and testosterone.


Randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study.

Participants and Intervention

96 recreationally trained athletes (63 men, 33 women) received 8 weeks of treatment followed by a 6-week washout period. Men received placebo, GH (2 mg/day), testosterone (250 mg/week) or combination. Women received either placebo or GH (2 mg/day).

Main outcome measure

Serum decorin concentration.


GH treatment significantly increased mean serum decorin concentration by 12.7 ± 4.2%; P < 0.01. There was a gender difference in the decorin response to GH, with greater increase in men than in women ( 16.5 ± 5.3%; P < 0.05 compared to 9.4 ± 6.5%; P = 0.16). Testosterone did not significantly change serum decorin. Combined GH and testosterone treatment increased mean decorin concentration by 19.5 ± 3.7% (P < 0.05), a change not significantly different from GH alone.


GH significantly increases circulating decorin, an effect greater in men than in women. Decorin is not affected by testosterone. We conclude that GH positively regulates decorin in humans in a gender-dimorphic manner.