Objective: It has been proposed that the dissociation between growth hormone secretion and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) concentrations in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus arises because of partial resistance at the GH receptor. In order to explore this hypothesis further we have examined the relations between IGF-I, GH-binding protein (GHBP), and GH secretion in normal subjects and patients with diabetes during puberty.
Design and subjects: Blood samples for the estimation of IGF-I and GHBP levels were obtained from 104 patients with diabetes and 89 puberty matched controls. Thirty-four of the controls and 42 of the patients with diabetes also underwent an overnight GH secretory profile with measurements of GH every 15-20 minutes between 2000 and 0800 h.
Results: In multivariate analysis using sex, puberty stage, and presence or absence of diabetes as dependent variables, diabetes was associated with increased GH levels (F = 23.04, P < 0.001), reduced IGF-I (F = 10.89, P < 0.001), and reduced GHBP levels (F = 31.36, P < 0.001). A negative relation between GH and GHBP levels (r = -0.44, P < 0.01) was found in normal subjects but this was absent in those with diabetes. Both GHBP and IGF-I levels in the diabetic subjects were correlated with total insulin dose (r = 0.4, P < 0.001, and r = 0.46, P < 0.001, respectively). Yet there was no direct correlation between GHBP and IGF-I concentrations. The variation in IGF-I levels was also related to glycosylated haemoglobin levels in the diabetics (r = -0.27, P = 0.01). In a stepwise multiple regression analysis insulin dose contributed 23%, HbA1 4.4% and C-peptide levels 3.7% to the variation in IGF-I levels.
Conclusions: In adolescents with insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, the elevated GH concentrations are associated with low circulating IGF-I and GHBP concentrations and the normal reciprocal relation between GHBP and GH is no longer evident. Although IGF-I and GHBP are both related to insulin dose, there is no direct correlation between these variables. This may indicate that GHBP reflects GH receptor numbers but not necessarily post receptor events, and the weak positive correlation between GH and IGF-I indicates that increased growth hormone secretion may compensate for reduced receptor numbers.