Acromegaly. If an acidophilic tumor occurs after adolescence—that is, after the epiphyses of the long bones have fused with the shafts—the person cannot grow taller, but the bones can become thicker and the soft tissues can continue to grow. This condition, shown in Figure 75-8, is known as acromegaly. Enlargement is especially marked in the bones of the hands and feet and in the membranous bones, including the cranium, nose, bosses on the forehead, supraorbital ridges, lower jawbone, and portions of the vertebrae, because their growth does not cease at adolescence. Consequently, the lower jaw protrudes forward, sometimes as much as half an inch, the forehead slants forward because of excess development of the supraorbital ridges, the nose increases to as much as twice normal size, the feet require size 14 or larger shoes, and the fingers become extremely thickened so that the hands are almost twice normal size. In addition to these effects, changes in the vertebrae ordinarily cause a hunched back, which is known clinically as kyphosis. Finally, many soft tissue organs, such as the tongue, the liver, and especially the kidneys, become greatly enlarged.
Possible Role of Decreased Growth Hormone Secretion in Causing Changes Associated with Aging
In people who have lost the ability to secrete growth hormone, some features of the aging process accelerate. For instance, a 50-year-old person who has been without growth hormone for many years may have the appearance of a person aged 65. The aged appearance seems to result mainly from decreased protein deposition in most tissues of the body and increased fat deposition in its place. The physical and physiological effects are increased wrinkling of the skin, diminished rates of function of some of the organs, and diminished muscle mass and strength.
As one ages, the average plasma concentration of growth hormone in an otherwise normal person changes approximately as follows:
Was this article helpful?
This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.