Relationship between carbohydrate metabolism and serum insulin-like growth factor system in postmenopausal women: comparison of endometrial cancer patients with healthy controls

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1993 Jul;77(1):199-204. doi: 10.1210/jcem.77.1.7686914.


Insulin is a major regulator of circulating insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), suppressing the hepatic production of IGFBP-1. Postmenopausal age, obesity, hypertension, and impaired glucose tolerance, which are known risk factors for endometrial cancer, are all associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. In this study, we investigated the relationship among serum insulin, glucose, insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II), and IGFBP-, -2, and -3 in 32 nondiabetic postmenopausal women with endometrial cancer and in 18 healthy controls. The mean fasting levels of glucose and insulin were higher, whereas the mean basal IGF-I, IGF-II, and IGFBP-3 levels were lower in the endometrial cancer patients than in the healthy control subjects. The mean fasting IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-2 levels did not differ between the groups, and no correlation was found between fasting insulin and IGFBP-1 concentrations or between insulin and IGFBP-2 concentrations in either of the study groups. During an oral glucose tolerance test, the mean glucose levels at 1 and 3 h as well as the mean insulin level at 3 h were significantly higher in the endometrial cancer patients than in the controls, and the area under the glucose curve was larger in the first group. An oral glucose load resulted in a similar fall in serum IGFBP-1 levels in endometrial cancer patients and controls (51% and 55% at 3 h). When the cancer patients were divided into two subgroups according to the body mass index (kilograms per m2), the obese group had higher glucose and insulin indices than the nonobese group. No difference was found by the same measures in healthy controls. The fasting serum IGFBP-1 levels tended to be lower in the obese than in the normal weight subjects, but the difference did not reach statistical significance. In summary, these results provide preliminary evidence that the inverse relation between fasting insulin and IGFBP-1, well established in children and young adults, disappears in elderly women, although short term suppression by insulin still occurs. Further, our data indicate that in addition to carbohydrate metabolism, postmenopausal women with endometrial cancer have alterations in their circulating IGF system compared to controls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / blood*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / complications
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism*
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications


  • Blood Glucose
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II