Background: Good glycaemic control in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) to prevent complications may be difficult to achieve during adolescence, because abnormalities in production of growth hormone or insulin-like growth-factor-I (IGF-I) can lead to lower insulin sensitivity. Recombinant human IGF-I (rhIGF-I) given as an adjunct to insulin therapy in IDDM, might improve glycaemic control in adolescents; we investigated the effects of the addition of IGF-I in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Methods: 53 patients with IDDM (26 male, 27 female) with a median age of 16.1 years (range 10.8-20.6) and diabetes of more than 2 years' duration were randomly assigned subcutaneous rhIGF-I (20 or 40 microg/kg daily [n=18, n=18, respectively]) or placebo (n=17), both in addition to multiple-injection insulin therapy for 24 weeks. The primary endpoint, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) and routine biochemistry were measured every 4 weeks. Retinal photographs and glomerular-filtration rates were assessed at base line and at the end of the study. Data were analysed by intention to treat.
Findings: With a dose of 40 microg/kg rhIGF-I daily, we found significant reductions in HbA1c compared with placebo (p=0.03), without changes in body-mass index, rate of hypoglycaemia, insulin dose, or circulating concentrations of IGF-binding proteins 1 and 3. The greatest median change in HbA1c of -0.6% (range -2.8 to -1.5%) was seen with rhIGF-I 40 microg/kg at week 12, but was not sustained at week 24. The greatest reductions in HbA1c at week 24 were seen among patients with the greatest changes in IGF-I concentrations (r=-0442, p=0.002). Retinal photographs, renal function (glomerular filtration rate and urinary albumin excretion), and routine biochemistry showed no adverse events.
Interpretation: Our data confirm that rhIGF-I as an adjunct to insulin therapy can improve HbA1c values in adolescents with IDDM without overt toxic effects, but they raise questions about whether these effects can be sustained in cases of poor compliance or reduced bioefficacy.