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Acromegaly Essay

I. Introduction The human body contains various structures and organs that allow regulations and maintenance of homeostasis. Foundation is built through the framework of the skeletal system, motion is possible due to the muscular system humans have and other body systems that allow humans to perform daily actions. All of this anatomical structures are possible due to the two main controlling system found in the body; the nervous system and endocrine system. The nervous system can be considered as information processor of the human body, but for it to be more effective in transferring and processing information; it works in tandem with the endocrine system.

The purpose of the endocrine system is to act in response to the information the nervous system has processed. The endocrine system is made up of glands that secrete hormones, chemicals that are secreted to the bloodstream to be spread in specific target organs in the body. Seven major glands are found in the body, in which each gland works to ensure that the body develops properly and be regulated to maintain homeostasis. However, certain conditions are inevitable in the human body and anything bad or harmful to the endocrine system can affect a human’s development and growth.

II. Endocrine Disorder The Disorder Each person is unique and grows differently from each other. Various aspects can be considered when considering diversity. These aspects can be factors of the development of the human body itself. Some may be hereditary, inborn and some can be a result of exposure to unhealthy surrounding. A person grows, but there are cases where growing exceeds the normal rate and reaches to extreme compare to other people. This occurrence is called acromegaly, in which the secretion of growth hormone (GH) in the pituitary gland exceeds its normal production even after the growth plates in the body has closed already. Thus, making structures and bones that are still responsive to growth hormone particularly in the hands, feet and face to overgrow (Marieb, 2010).

Acquiring the Disorder Acromegaly is a disorder of hyper secretion of growth hormone, in which the chances of getting it is very rare and can vary through the development of the human body. This condition is due to abnormal production of growth hormone that functions to determine body size, affecting tissues in the body. From muscle growth, short, facial bones to the long bones of the body, growth hormone acts as a metabolic hormone that affects human size and shape in an extensive period of time. It is very comparable to a person with gigantism disorder, only difference is that in acromegaly there is a continuous growth of different structures in the body even though the growth plates have closes. The chance of getting this disorder is low, estimated 40 to 60 out of a million people yet it is hard to identify early on (Abbassioun, 2006). One person can develop and acquire the disorder and not be able to notice it right away.

Gender and Age Preference of the Disorder The fact that acromegaly is a disorder in the endocrine system, there is an equal chance of male and female acquiring it, unlike if it was a disorder in the reproductive system. Both sex has a percentage of 55 to 59 patients in a million on acquiring the disease (Parkinson, 2003). It seems very few but many of the people that have the disorder tend to disregard or notice it. There is a possibility that the disorder will take years before a patient will notice the major changes of appearance in the body. Even though some may notice it, there are high chances that the person that has it will not look for medical help for treating the disorder. In terms of age bracket, in children when there is an overgrowth it is often termed as gigantism. However, when it exceeds beyond the child age limit, on adults to be exact, it is highly considered as acromegaly.

Geographical Preference of the Disorder Acromegaly is a rare disorder in the endocrine system with certain treatments and therapy to reduce the chances of the disorder from getting worse. Worldwide, acromegaly is equally distributed, however, the number of cases left untreated is often found in many developing countries. With the inability to pay for treatments and therapy and the lack of professional skill, most cases of acromegaly in developing countries are not cured.

Fatality of the Disorder The increase of size and mass of bones, muscles and many tissues in the body as a result of acromegaly tends to disrupt the normal functions of many organs. For instance, the enlargement of the bones can overgrow faster than tissues and structures around it. In some cases, it can cause cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease due to the enlargement of bones and muscles that inhibits both cardiovascular and respiratory system to function normally. Bones can also get brittle and fragile and even result in more chronic disease such as osteoporosis.

Treatment of the Disorder There are numerous treatments on the condition of acromegaly. Certain therapies and treatments worldwide are known to be effective. Out of a hundred patients with acromegaly, 60 of those patients can be cured through surgery (Stewart, 2000). In particular, the reductions of growth hormone levels are the most effective treatment known today for cases of acromegaly. If things comes to worse, the removal of a tumor in the anterior pituitary is the most practical thing to do to take out excessive amount of growth hormone. However, treatment of acromegaly cannot change back what the disorder have already done to the human body such as bone deformities (Bolanowski, 2006).

III. Topic Hormone Growth hormone or somatotropin is the hormone involved in the disorder of acromegaly. Produced by somatotrophs in the anterior pituitary gland, it functions as a metabolic hormone and determinant of body size. Growth hormones functions mainly on growth effects but it also has other aiding purpose in different parts of the body such as mobilization of fats, blood level increase, glycogen breakdown and more. The chemical nature of this hormone is protein based, hence the name somatotropin.

It is originally made in the hypothalamus where it is secreted, then passes through the anterior pituitary gland before it enters the bloodstream. It is regulated through negative feedback, inhibiting the release of growth hormones when the amount in the bloodstream is high already. In terms of target tissues, it is very general, pretty much all the bone structure and most of the muscular system is affected by the growth hormone. It also has a very short half-life, ranging from twenty to thirty minutes. Typically, growth hormones are secreted the most during sleep; however, it decreases with age. Growth hormones cannot be naturally conjugated due to its own ability to inhibit its release when it is too much in the body already.

IV. Mechanism of Action Normal Effect of Growth Hormone The release of growth hormone in the body is due to two hormones that has antagonistic effects found in the hypothalamus. Growth hormone-releasing hormone or GHRH activates growth hormone release when it is needed to synthesize protein and does its growth promoting functions in the body. Inhibition of its secretion is due to the release of growth hormone-inhibiting hormone or GHIH (Marieb, 2010). GHIH is triggered by increase on levels of growth hormone in the bloodstream. There are two ways growth hormone can be classified in terms of when it is activated. First is indirect action, where it functions as a growth promoter. Second is direct actions such as metabolism and anti- insulin.

Effect of Growth Hormone to Person with Acromegaly Hypersecretion of growth hormone is the major cause of acromegaly, Over secretion of growth hormone in children can be considered as gigantism, however, in adults, which age bracket shouldn’t grow bigger than before, an occurrence of over secretion of growth hormone is considered acromegaly. With gigantism body grows at a proportion, to say the least. In the disorder of acromegaly, a body part grows while certain structures everywhere else in the body doesn’t, which result in oversized parts of the body such as the hand or face. The main receptors of growth hormone on its indirect actions are skeletal and muscular.

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