The relationship between insulin-like growth factor-I, adiposity, and aging

Metabolism. 1990 Jun;39(6):584-7. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(90)90022-5.


Aging is associated with both a relative accumulation of body fat and a reduction in growth hormone (GH) secretion. This study was devised to investigate the relationship between plasma insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), an index of GH secretion, and anthropometric indices of body fat in normal subjects of various ages. Somatic and biochemical indices of nutrition were assessed in 107 subjects between the ages of 17 and 83 years who attended an outpatient clinic for general health supervision. Plasma IGF-I correlated negatively with age in both males (r = -.44, P = .001) and females (r = -.40, P = .005). In addition, plasma IGF-I correlated negatively with body mass index (BMI) (r = .35, P = .006), percentage of standard triceps skinfold (TSF) (r = -.26, P = .05), and percentage of standard weight (r = -.35, P = .006) in males, but not in females. Multiple regression analysis indicated that in males, BMI and percentage of standard weight correlated with plasma IGF-I independent of the effect of age. We conclude that adiposity and aging are independently associated with decreased plasma IGF-I concentrations. The negative correlations between indices of adiposity and IGF-I were observed only in males, whereas the age-associated decline in IGF-I was present in both males and females. We speculate that sex differences in the gonadal steroid milieu, combined with declining GH secretion in both sexes, may contribute to the age-associated development of obesity in males.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Anthropometry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Somatomedins / analysis*


  • Somatomedins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I