Effect of zinc supplementation on growth hormone-insulin growth factor axis in short Egyptian children with zinc deficiency

Ital J Pediatr. 2012 May 24:38:21. doi: 10.1186/1824-7288-38-21.


Background: The relationship between zinc (Zn) and growth hormone-insulin growth factor (GH-IGF) system and how Zn therapy stimulates growth in children has not been clearly defined in humans. Thus, we aimed to assess GH-IGF axis in short children with Zn deficiency and to investigate the effect of Zn supplementation on these parameters.

Methods: Fifty pre-pubertal Egyptian children with short stature and Zn deficiency were compared to 50 age-, sex-, and pubertal stage- matched controls. All subjects were subjected to history, auxological assessment and measurement of serum Zn, IGF-1, insulin growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3); and basal and stimulated GH before and 3 months after Zn supplementation (50 mg/day).

Results: After 3 months of Zn supplementation in Zn-deficient patients, there were significant increases in height standard deviation score (SDS, P = 0.033), serum Zn (P < 0.001), IGF-1 (P < 0.01), IGF-1 standard deviation score (SDS, P < 0.01) and IGFBP-3 (P = 0.042). Zn rose in all patients but reached normal ranges in 64 %, IGF-1 levels rose in 60 % but reached normal ranges in 40 % and IGFBP-3 levels rose in 40 % but reached reference ranges in 22 %. Growth velocity (GV) SDS did not differ between cases and controls (p = 0.15) but was higher in GH-deficient patients than non-deficient ones, both having Zn deficiency (p = 0.03).

Conclusion: Serum IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 levels were low in short children with Zn deficiency, and increased after Zn supplementation for 3 months but their levels were still lower than the normal reference ranges in most children; therefore, Zn supplementation may be necessary for longer periods.

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / blood
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology
  • Growth Hormone / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Zinc / blood
  • Zinc / deficiency*
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Growth Hormone
  • Zinc