Circulating insulin-like growth factor-I levels are correlated with the atherosclerotic profile in healthy subjects independently of age

A. Colao, S. Spiezia, C. Di Somma, R. Pivonello, P. Marzullo, F. Rota, T. Musella, R. S. Auriemma, M. C. De Martino, G. Lombardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To investigate the relationships between the GH-IGF-1 axis and the atherosclerotic profile, we designed this open, observational, prospective study. Peak GH after GHRH+arginine (ARG) test, serum IGF-1 and IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), lipid profile, homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index and intima-media thickness (IMT) at common carotid arteries were measured in 174 healthy individuals (92 women, 82 men, aged 18-80 yr). Exclusion criteria for this study were: 1) body mass index (BMI) &30 kg/m2; 2) personal history of cardiovascular diseases; 3) previous or current treatments of diabetes or hypertension; 4) previous corticosteroids treatment for longer than 2 weeks or estrogens for longer than 3 months; 5) smoking of more than 15 cigarettes/day and alcohol abuse. Subjects were divided according to age in decade groups from 70 yr. BMI increased with age, as did systolic and diastolic blood pressures, although they remained in the normal range. The GH peak after GHRH+ARG test was significantly higher in the subjects aged 1 (p=0.006). At multi-step regression analysis, age was the best predictor of HDL-cholesterol levels and mean IMT, IGF-1 level was the best predictor of total cholesterol and total/HDL-cholesterol ratio, the IGF-1/IGFBP-3 molar ratio was the best predictor of triglycerides levels. The z-scores of IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 were the second best predictors of mean IMT after age. In conclusion, IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 were negatively correlated with common cardiovascular risk factors, studied as total/HDL-cholesterol ratio, and/or early atherosclerosis, studied as IMT at common carotid arteries. The prevalence of atherosclerotic plaques, though not hemodinamically significant, was higher in the subjects having a z-score of IGF-1 of ≤-2 to -1. Our results support a role of the IGF/IGFBP-3 axis in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-448
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Common carotids
  • IGF-1
  • Intima-media thickness
  • Lipid profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology


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