Cord Blood Ferritin and Fibroblast Growth Factor-23 Levels in Neonates

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Apr;101(4):1673-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2015-3709. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Context: Elevated levels of the phosphate-regulating hormone, fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF-23) are associated with skeletal and cardiovascular disease. Levels of FGF-23 are elevated in neonates, but the mechanisms are poorly understood. Iron deficiency is a recently described stimulus for FGF-23 production.

Objective: To test the hypothesis that lower fetal iron status, as measured by lower cord blood ferritin, is independently associated with elevated FGF-23 levels in neonates.

Design and participants: This is a cross-sectional study of 64 full-term, healthy neonates.

Setting: This study took place in a university-based, tertiary care center.

Main outcome measures: Plasma levels of second generation C-terminal FGF-23 (cFGF-23) and intact FGF-23 (iFGF-23).

Results: Levels of cFGF-23 ranged from 108 to 7508 reference units (RU)/ml (median, 824 RU/ml), and iFGF-23 from undetectable (<8.5) to 135.4 pg/ml (median, <8.5 pg/mL). Ferritin ranged from 58 to 719 ng/ml (mean, 203 ng/ml). Lower cord blood ferritin levels were associated with higher cFGF-23 (r = −0.320; P = .014), but not iFGF-23 levels (r = −0.222; P = .082). In multivariate analyses adjusted for glycemic indices, maternal race, and parity, lower ferritin levels remained independently associated with higher cFGF-23 levels (B = −0.261, P = .01). In the full models, higher cord blood glucose and C-peptide levels were also independently associated with higher cFGF-23 levels.

Conclusions: cFGF-23, but not iFGF-23 levels, are elevated in cord blood of healthy term neonates and independently associated with lower serum ferritin and higher glycemic indices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / blood*
  • Humans
  • Illinois / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • FGF23 protein, human
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23
  • Ferritins
  • Iron