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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2003 Dec;59(6):699-706.

Increased IGF-I : IGFBP-3 ratio in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

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1
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University of Naples, Naples, Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The development of hepatocellular carcinoma in liver cirrhosis is associated with altered synthesis and secretion of several growth factors.

AIM:

The aim of this prospective study was to investigate the potential implication of IGF-I and its major binding protein (IGFBP-3) in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

IGF-I and IGFBP-3 were measured in 150 healthy subjects, 40 patients with liver cirrhosis and 63 with liver cirrhosis and untreated hepatocellular carcinoma. The ratio between IGF-I and IGFBP-3 was also calculated.

RESULTS:

Serum IGF-I (70 +/- 10 and 65 +/- 7 vs. 185 +/- 6.4 microg/l, P < 0.001) and IGFBP-3 levels (1225 +/- 113 and 984 +/- 67 vs. 3017 +/ -80 microg/l, P < 0.001) were lower in patients with liver cirrhosis, without or with hepatocellular carcinoma, than in controls. Age was negatively correlated with IGF-I levels in patients with liver cirrhosis (r = -0.6; P = 0.0002) as well as in controls (r = -0.8, P < 0.0001), but not in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (r = -0.2; P = 0.2). Additionally, in patients with liver cirrhosis (r = -0.54; P = 0.0003) and more weakly in those with hepatocellular carcinoma (r = -0.24; P = 0.04) IGF-I levels were negatively correlated with liver failure measured according with Child class. Despite patients with class C hepatocellular carcinoma being older than those in the same functional class with cirrhosis (64 +/- 2 vs. 57 +/- 12 years, P < 0.01), they had a significantly increased IGF-I : IGFBP-3 ratio (0.18 +/- 0.05 vs. 0.41 +/- 0.09, P = 0.04), due mostly to increased IGF-I levels (27.1 +/- 5.6 vs. 42 +/- 6.2 microg/l) as IGFBP-3 levels were similar to patients with cirrhosis (734 +/- 81 vs. 679 +/- 83 microg/l).

CONCLUSIONS:

Hepatocellular carcinoma is associated with a higher IGF-I : IGFBP-3 ratio than that found in patients with liver cirrhosis and a similar degree of liver failure.

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