The role of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and IGF binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome

Hum Reprod. 1992 Nov;7(10):1379-83. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.humrep.a137577.


The objective of this study was to elucidate the relationship and role of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), IGF binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), insulin and luteinizing hormone (LH) in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In a pilot study, serum concentrations of IGF-1 were determined in women with PCOS (n = 10), hypopituitarism (n = 12) and normal controls (n = 10). In the main study, serum concentrations of IGF-1, IGFBP-1, insulin and LH in women with anovulation associated (n = 23) and not associated (n = 47) with PCOS were determined. Serum concentrations of IGF-1 were not different in women with PCOS, anovulatory non-PCOS and healthy women but were low in those with hypopituitarism. Mean serum IGFBP-1 in PCOS (33.8 +/- 21.2 micrograms/l) was decreased compared with anovulatory non-PCOS (60.0 +/- 22 micrograms/l) (P = 0.0001), and correlated negatively with insulin concentrations (r = -0.67, P = 0.0006). Patients with PCOS could be separated into those with high LH and those with high insulin levels. It was concluded that women with PCOS have normal serum IGF-1 concentrations but IGFBP-1 levels, regulated by insulin, are low. Hyperinsulinaemia and raised LH are independently capable of stimulating ovarian androgen production. Growth factors may have an important role in the pathogenesis of PCOS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anovulation / blood
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypophysectomy
  • Hypopituitarism / blood
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pituitary Gland / physiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / etiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Somatomedins / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Somatomedins
  • Testosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone