Serum insulin-like growth factors and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins in the human fetus. Relationships with growth in normal subjects and in subjects with intrauterine growth retardation

Pediatr Res. 1991 Mar;29(3):219-25. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199103000-00001.


IGF-I, IGF-II, and their binding proteins (BP) were studied in sera obtained by direct puncture of umbilical cords in utero between 20 and 37 wk of gestation in 103 normal fetuses and in 16 fetuses with intrauterine growth retardation, as well as in the cord blood of 37 normal newborns of 38- to 42-wk pregnancies. In normal fetuses, IGF-I levels were approximately 50 ng/mL and IGF-II levels approximately 350 ng/mL up to the 33rd wk of pregnancy. Thereafter, both increased to reach values two to three times higher at term. Correlations were found between fetal placental lactogen levels and those of IGF-I and IGF-II, which is consistent with the hypothesis that placental lactogen is involved in the regulation of IGF synthesis in the fetus. With weight (either measured at birth or deduced from echographical data) as index of fetal size, IGF-I levels were significantly (p less than 0.001) higher in fetuses with weights above the mean for gestational age than in fetuses with weights below the mean, whereas IGF-II levels were similar in the two groups. Similarly, IGF-I (but not IGF-II) levels in fetuses with intrauterine growth retardation were significantly lower than those in normal fetuses of the same age (p less than 0.01). These findings suggest that, during the latter months of intrauterine life, IGF-I (but not IGF-II) is involved in the control of fetal size. Total fetal BP concentrations were approximately 1/3 those of adults. The fetal electrophoretic profile obtained by Western-ligand blotting bore a strong resemblance to that of subjects with growth hormone deficiency.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Constitution
  • Carrier Proteins / blood*
  • Carrier Proteins / chemistry
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / blood
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / pathology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism*
  • Molecular Weight
  • Placental Lactogen / blood
  • Pregnancy


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Placental Lactogen