Relations between sex hormones, sex hormone binding globulin, insulin-like growth factor-I and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 in post-menopausal breast cancer patients

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1995 Jan;42(1):23-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.1995.tb02594.x.


Objective: Oestrogens, androgens and anti-endocrine drugs such as tamoxifen and aminoglutethimide influence plasma insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). IGF-I, in turn, has been found to stimulate the peripheral aromatase in vitro. The aim of this study was to examine relations between sex hormones, IGF-I and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) in post-menopausal women with breast cancer.

Design: To measure plasma sex steroids, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), IGF-I, IGFBP-1, insulin and urinary oestrogen metabolites in post-menopausal women with breast cancer not receiving any endocrine therapy.

Patients: Thirty-two patients had fasting blood samples obtained between 0800 and 1000 h. A sub-group of 10 patients had 24-hour urine oestrogen metabolites determined.

Measurements: Plasma steroids and proteins were measured by radioimmunoassays. Urinary oestrogens were measured by GC-MS.

Results: SHBG correlated negatively with plasma androstenedione (P < 0.001), insulin (P < 0.001), IGF-I, height and plasma oestrone sulphate (P < 0.025 for all), but positively with plasma IGFBP-1 (P < 0.025). IGFBP-1 correlated negatively with IGF-I (P < 0.001) and the testosterone/SHBG ratio (P < 0.05). Neither IGF-I nor IGFBP-1 correlated with any of the plasma or urinary sex hormones or with the oestrone/androstenedione and oestradiol/testosterone ratios. Multivariate analysis revealed plasma SHBG to correlate positively with IGFBP-1 (P = 0.029) and negatively with insulin (P = 0.031). Plasma IGFBP-1 correlated negatively with IGF-I (P < 0.0001) but not with insulin.

Conclusion: Our results do not suggest any influence of plasma sex steroids in physiological concentrations on IGF-I or IGFBP-1 in post-menopausal breast cancer patients, nor do they indicate IGF-I at physiological concentrations influences the ratios between plasma oestrogens and their androgen precursors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estrogens / urine
  • Estrone / blood
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Time Factors


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Estrogens
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Estrone
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Estradiol
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I