Influence of oral contraceptive use on growth hormone in vivo bioactivity following resistance exercise: Responses of molecular mass variants

William J. Kraemer*, Bradley C. Nindl, Jeff S. Volek, James O. Marx, Lincoln A. Gotshalk, Jill A. Bush, Jill R. Welsch, Jakob L. Vingren, Barry A. Spiering, Maren S. Fragala, Disa L. Hatfield, Jen Yu Ho, Carl M. Maresh, Andrea M. Mastro, Wesley C. Hymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose was to examine effects of oral contraceptive (OC) use on plasma growth hormone (GH) responses to heavy resistance exercise. Sixty untrained women were placed into one of two groups: currently using OC (Ortho Tri-Cyclen®) (n = 25; mean ± SD: 24.5 ± 4.2 y, 160.4 ± 7.1 cm, 64.1 ± 11.3 kg) or not currently using OC (NOC) (n = 35; 23.6 ± 4.6 y, 165.9 ± 6.0 cm, 65.7 ± 10.3 kg). Participants performed an acute heavy resistance exercise test (AHRET; six sets of 10 repetition squats; 2 min rest between sets) during days 2-4 of the follicular phase (NOC group) or of inactive oral contraceptive intake (OC group). Plasma was obtained before and immediately after AHRET and subsequently fractionated based on apparent molecular weight (>60 kD, 30-60 kD, and <30 kD). GH was determined in unfractionated plasma and each plasma fraction using 4 methods: (1) Nichols Institute Diagnostics immunoradiometric assay (Nichols), (2) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) competitive radioimmunoassay, (3) DSL immunofunctional enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay (IFA) and (4) rat tibial line bioassay. GH increased (P < 0.05) in all fractions post-AHRET for the Nichols, NIDDK, and IFA. The OC group displayed higher resting GH for the NIDDK, and higher exercise-induced GH for the IFA, Nichols, and NIDDK in unfractionated plasma and >60 kD subfraction compared to NOC group. No differences were observed for the tibial line bioassay. OC use augmented immunological GH response to AHRET in unfractionated plasma and >60 kD molecular weight subfraction. However, OC use only increased biological activity of GH in one of two bioassays. These data demonstrated that GH concentrations at rest and following exercise are assay-dependent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalGrowth Hormone and IGF Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth control
  • Estradiol
  • Reproductive hormones
  • Strength
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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