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Serum concentrations of free and total insulin-like growth factor-I, IGF binding proteins -1 and-3 and IGFBP-3 protease activity in boys with normal or precocious puberty

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OBJECTIVE Circulating IGF-I and IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) levels both increase in puberty where growth velocity is high. The amount of free IGF-I is dependent on the IGF-I level and on the concentrations of the specific IGFBPs. Furthermore, IGFBP-3 proteolysis regulates the bioavailability of IGF-I. However, the concentration of free IGF-I and possible IGFBP-3 proteolytic activity in puberty has not previously been studied.

SUBJECTS AND MEASUREMENTS We investigated serum levels of easily dissociable IGF-I concentrations and ultrafiltrated free IGF-I levels by specific assays in 60 healthy boys and in 5 boys with precocious puberty before and during GnRH agonist treatment. In addition, total serum IGF-I, IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-3 levels as well as IGFBP-3 protease activity were determined.

RESULTS Free (dissociable and ultrafiltrated) IGF-I concentrations were significantly higher in pubertal boys than in prepubertal children and correlated significantly with the molar ratio between IGF-I and IGFBP-3 (r=0.69, P<0.0001 and r=0.54, P=0.0008, respectively) and inversely with IGFBP-1 (r=-0.47, P<0.0001 and r=-0.43, P=0.0003, respectively). Multiple regression analysis suggested that IGFBP-3 level, and not IGFBP-1, was the major determinant of the free IGF-I serum level in normal boys. Free IGF-I levels were elevated in boys with precocious puberty and decreased during GnRH treatment. IGFBP-3 proteolysis was constant throughout puberty (mean 20%).

CONCLUSIONS We conclude that easily dissociable and ultrafiltrated free IGF-I serum levels are increased in boys with normal and precocious puberty and suggest that the increased free IGF-I serum concentration in puberty primarily reflects changes in total concentrations of IGF-I and IGFBPs secondary to increased GH secretion, but that it is not influenced by changes in IGFBP-3 proteolysis.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Growth and Reproduction, National University Hospital, Copenhagen 2: Institute of Clinical Experimental Research, Aarhus Kommunehospital, Denmark

Publication date: May 1, 1996

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