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.