Send to

Choose Destination
Diabet Med. 2003 Apr;20(4):269-76.

The relationship between the circulating IGF system and the presence of retinopathy in Type 1 diabetic patients.

Author information

Medical Research Laboratories, Institute of Experimental Clinical Research, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.



Patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) have increased vitreous levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I, IGF-II and IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs). This accumulation is probably caused by increased leakiness of the blood-retina barrier and influx of circulating IGFs and IGFBPs. To date, interest has focused on the role of circulating total IGF-I in the development of PDR, and there are only sparse data on circulating levels of free IGF-I and IGFBPs.


We compared fasting serum samples from matched groups of Type 1 diabetic patients with no retinopathy (n = 29), non-PDR (n = 13) and PDR (n = 16). We also included matched controls (n = 26). Serum was analysed for free and total IGF-I and -II, free plus dissociable IGF-I, IGFBP-1, -2 and -3, IGFBP-1-bound IGF-I as well as IGFBP-3 proteolysis.


When compared with controls, diabetic patients (n = 58) showed reduced (P < 0.0005) levels of free and total IGFs, free plus dissociable IGF-I and IGFBP-3, whereas levels of IGFBP-1, IGFBP-1-bound IGF-I and IGFBP-2 were elevated. IGFBP-3 proteolysis remained unaltered. When comparing diabetic patients with different degrees of retinopathy, IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-1-bound IGF-I were the only parameters that differed significantly. Patients with retinopathy (non-PDR as well as PDR) had elevated IGFBP-2 (P < 0.03) and reduced IGFBP-1-bound IGF-I (P < 0.03), when compared with patients without retinopathy. Noteworthy, both parameters correlated (0.11 < r2 < 0.14, P < 0.02) with the severity of retinopathy.


Our study gives no evidence of a direct role of circulating free IGF-I in the development of PDR, whereas IGFBP-2 and IGFBP-1-bound IGF-I showed a relationship with the degree of retinopathy. However, further investigations are needed in order to clarify the basis and clinical relevance of this finding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center