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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2002 Jul;57(1):59-64.

Gender and age influence the relationship between serum GH and IGF-I in patients with acromegaly.

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Department of Endocrinology, Christie Hospital, Manchester, UK.



In patients with acromegaly serum IGF-I is increasingly used as a marker of disease activity. As a result, the relationship between serum GH and IGF-I is of profound interest. Healthy females secrete three times more GH than males but have broadly similar serum IGF-I levels, and women with GH deficiency require 30-50% more exogenous GH to maintain the same serum IGF-I as GH-deficient men. In a selected cohort of patients with active acromegaly, studied off medical therapy using a single fasting serum GH and IGF-I measurement, we have reported previously that, for a given GH level, women have significantly lower circulating IGF-I.


To evaluate the influence of age and gender on the relationship between serum GH and IGF-I in an unselected cohort of patients with acromegaly independent of disease control and medical therapy.


Sixty (34 male) unselected patients with acromegaly (median age 51 years (range 24-81 years) attending a colonoscopy screening programme were studied. Forty-five had previously received pituitary radiotherapy. Patients had varying degrees of disease control and received medical therapy where appropriate. Mean serum GH was calculated from an eight-point day profile (n = 45) and values obtained during a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (n = 15). Serum IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and acid-labile subunit were measured and the dependency of these factors on covariates such as log10 mean serum GH, sex, age and prior radiotherapy was assessed using regression techniques.


The median calculated GH value was 4.7 mU/l (range 1-104). A significant linear association was observed between serum IGF-I and log10 mean serum GH for the cohort (R = 0.5, P < 0.0001). After simultaneous adjustment of the above covariates a significant difference in the relationship between mean serum GH and IGF-I was observed for males and females. On average, women had serum IGF-I levels 11.44 nmol/l lower than men with the same mean serum GH (P = 0.03, 95% CI 1.33-21.4 nmol/l). Age significantly influenced the relationship and for a given serum GH, IGF-I was estimated to fall by 0.37 nmol/l per year (P = 0.04, 95% CI 0.015-0.72).


In keeping with previous observations of relative GH resistance in normal and GH-deficient females we have observed lower serum IGF-I levels for equivalent mean serum GH levels in females patients with acromegaly. This gender-dependent difference is independent of disease activity and the use of concomitant medical therapy. Additionally, we have demonstrated that for a given serum GH level, age significantly influences IGF-I concentrations in patients with acromegaly. These data have important implications for the use of serum IGF-I and GH as markers of disease activity in acromegaly.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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