Free insulin-like growth factors in human obesity

Metabolism. 1995 Oct;44(10 Suppl 4):37-44. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(95)90219-8.


It is well established that spontaneous and stimulated growth hormone (GH) secretion is diminished in human obesity. In contrast to classic GH deficiency, obesity is not associated with hypopituitary levels of circulating total (extractable) insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and reduced somatic growth. Thus, the riddle of "normal growth without GH" in obese children and the mechanisms behind the GH suppression have remained unsolved. Insulin reduces hepatic production of IGF-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), an in vitro inhibitor of IGF bioactivity, and it has been suggested that the obesity-related hyperinsulinemia may increase free (bioactive) IGF in vivo by reducing the concentration of IGFBP-1. We have recently developed a method that during near in vivo conditions isolates the free, unbound fractions of IGF-I and IGF-II in human serum. Using this method, we have determined overnight fasting serum levels of free IGFs in obese subjects and compared the results with levels of total (extractable) IGFs, IGFBPs, GH, and insulin. The study included 92 healthy subjects (56 males and 36 females) allocated to three age-matched groups depending on body mass index (BMI): 31 controls (BMI < or = 25), 33 subjects with moderate obesity (25 < BMI < 30), and 28 subjects with severe obesity (BMI > or = 30). Fasting serum insulin correlated positively (r = .61, P < .0001) with BMI and was significantly elevated in moderate and severe obesity (P < .05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1 / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Ultrafiltration / methods


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Growth Hormone