For almost three decades, the measurement of circulating IGF-I has constituted a highly important biochemical tool in the management of GH disorders. In fact, in acromegaly the importance of circulating IGF-I has increased following the introduction of the GH receptor antagonist pegvisomant, as the use of this drug makes it impossible to use circulating GH as a monitor of disease activity. In addition, determination of circulating IGF-I constitutes a valuable scientific tool in various research areas, from epidemiological investigations through clinical trials and experimental studies. The multiple facets of IGF-I physiology and patho-physiology may explain why numerous endocrine laboratories have invested in IGF-I assays, by means of either in-house assays or commercial kits. However, despite its widespread use, the measurement of IGF-I is by no means trivial. On the contrary, the pronounced binding of IGF-I to the high-affinity IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs) constitutes a notorious source of error, which has necessitated the development of methods that more or less successfully circumvent interference from the IGFBPs. Furthermore, there are some unsolved issues with the international standardization of the different IGF-I assays and there is no consensus regarding the procedures used when collecting and storing samples for measurement of circulating IGF-I. The aim of this review is to discuss the current state of the art of IGF-I immunoassays and to present the current analytical problems with IGF-I measurements. Finally, we would like to suggest an agenda that may be used when trying to produce internationally accepted uniform requirements for future IGF-I assays.
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