Role of insulin-like growth factor-1 and growth hormone in growth inhibition induced by magnesium and zinc deficiencies

Br J Nutr. 1991 Nov;66(3):505-21. doi: 10.1079/bjn19910051.


Nutritional deficiencies of magnesium or zinc lead to a progressive and often marked growth retardation. We have evaluated the effect of Mg and Zn deficiency on growth, serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (s-IGF-1), growth hormone (s-GH) and insulin (s-insulin) in young rats. In 3-week-old rats maintained on Mg-deficient fodder for 12 d the weight gain was reduced by about 34%, compared with pair-fed controls. This was accompanied by a 44% reduction in s-IGF-1, while s-insulin showed no decrease. After 3 weeks on Mg-deficient fodder, growth had ceased while serum Mg (s-Mg) and s-IGF-1 were reduced by 76 and 60% respectively. Following repletion with Mg, s-Mg was completely normalized in 1 week, and s-IGF-1 reached control level after 2 weeks. Growth rate increased, but the rats had failed to catch up fully in weight after 3.5 weeks. Absolute and relative pair-feeding were compared during a Mg repletion experiment. Absolute pair-fed animals were given the same absolute amount of fodder as the Mg-deficient rats had consumed the day before. Relative pair-fed animals were given the same amount of fodder, on a body-weight basis, consumed in the Mg-deficient group the day before. In a repletion experiment the two methods did not differ significantly from each other with respect to body-weight, muscle weight, tibia length and s-IGF-1, although there was a tendency towards higher levels in the relative pair-fed group. The peak in s-GH after growth hormone-releasing factor 40 (GRF 40) was 336 (SE 63) micrograms/l in 5-week-old rats that had been Mg depleted for 14 d, whereas age-matched control animals showed a peak of 363 (SE 54) micrograms/l (not significant). In 3-week-old rats maintained on Zn-deficient fodder for 14 d weight gain was reduced by 83% compared with pair-fed controls. Serum Zn (s-Zn) and s-IGF-1 were reduced by 80 and 69% respectively, while s-insulin was reduced by 66%. The Zn-deficient animals showed a more pronounced growth inhibition than that seen during Mg deficiency and after 17 d on Zn-deficient fodder s-IGF-1 was reduced by 83%. Following repletion with Zn, s-Zn was normalized and s-IGF-1 had increased by 194% (P less than 0.05) after 3 d. s-IGF-1, however, was not normalized until after 2.5 weeks of repletion.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone / blood
  • Growth*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Magnesium Deficiency / complications*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Zinc / blood
  • Zinc / deficiency*


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone
  • Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc