Short stature associated with high circulating insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-binding protein-1 and low circulating IGF-II: Effect of growth hormone therapy

A. Barreca, M. Bozzola, A. Cesarone, P. H. Steenbergh, P. E. Holthuizen, F. Severi, G. Giordano, F. Minuto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report a case of short stature associated with high circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-10 and low levels of IGF-II responsive to pharmacological treatment with GH. Our patient suffered severe growth failure from birth (2.06 SD below the mean for normal full-term boys, and 5.2 and 7.3 SD below the mean at 5 and 10 months). Studies carried out before referral to our pediatric unit included normal 46,XY karyotype and normal encephalic imaging. Other endocrine and metabolic alterations and other systemic diseases were excluded. At 1.7 yr of age (length, 6.1 SD; weight, 4.6 SD; head circumference, 1.4 SD below the mean, respectively) the patient was referred to our pediatric unit. The baseline GH concentration was 31 μg/L, and the peak after an arginine load was 59.6 μg/L. In the same samples GH bioactivity was nearly superimposable (RIA/Nb2 bioactivity ratio = 0.9). Fasting insulin and glucose concentrations were 7.4 μU/mL and 65 mg/dL, respectively, both normally responsive to an oral glucose load. GH insensitivity was excluded by a basal IGF-I concentration (64 ng/mL) in the normal range for 0- to 5-yr-old boys and its increase after 2 IU/day hGH administration for 4 days. IGFBP-3 (0.5 μg/mL) was slightly reduced, whereas IGFBP-1 (2218 and 1515 ng/mL in two different basal samples) was well above the normal values for age and was suppressible by GH (maximum suppression, -77% at 84 h) and glucose load (maximum suppression, -46% at 150 min). The basal IGF-II concentration was below the normal range (86 ng/mL), whereas IGFBP-2 was normal (258 ng/mL). Analysis of the promoter region of IGFBP-1 and IGF-II failed to find major alterations. Neutral gel filtration of serum showed that almost all IGF-I activity was in the 35- to 45-kDa complex, coincident with IGFBP-1 peak, while the 150-kDa complex was absent, although the acid-labile subunit was normally represented. At 2.86 yr (height, 65.8 cm; height SD score, -7.3; height velocity SD score, -5) the patient underwent treatment with 7 IU/week human GH; after 4 months, the patient's height was 68.5 cm (height SD score, -6.9) corresponding to a growth velocity of 8.3 cm/yr (0.3 height velocity SD score). IGFBP-1 was reduced (216 ng/mL), although still in the high range, whereas IGF-I (71 ng/mL), IGFBP-3 (0.62 μg/mL), and IGF-II (111 ng/mL) were only slightly increased. The IGF-I profile showed activity in the 150-kDa region. In conclusion, we speculate that the increased IGFBP-1 values found in this patient produce 1) inhibition of IGF-I biological activity and, therefore, a resistance to IGF-I not due to a receptor defect for this hormone; 2) inhibition of formation of the circulating 150-kDa ternary complex and, therefore, an accelerated clearance rate of IGF peptides; 3) inhibition of the feedback action on GH, leading to increased GH levels, which could suggest the diagnosis of GH insensitivity syndrome; and 4) inhibition of body growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3534-3541
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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