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Biol Psychiatry. 1997 Mar 1;41(5):567-73.

Changes in growth hormone, insulin, insulinlike growth factors (IGFs), and IGF-binding protein-1 in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, Kings College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, United Kingdom.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by severe physical and mental fatigue of central origin. Similar clinical features may occur in disorders of the hypothalamopituitary axis. The aim of the study was to determine whether patients with CFS have abnormalities of the growth hormone/insulinlike growth factor (GH-IGF) axis basally or following hypothalamic stimulation with insulin-induced hypoglycemia. We compared levels of GH, IGF-I, IGF-II, IGF-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), insulin, and C-peptide in nondepressed CFS patients and normal controls. We found attenuated basal levels of IGF-I (214 +/- 17 vs. 263.4 +/- 13.4 micrograms/L, p = .036) and IGF-II (420 +/- 19.8 vs. 536 +/- 24.3 micrograms/L, p = .02) in CFS patients and a reduced GH response to hypoglycemia (peak GH; 41.9 +/- 11.5 vs. 106.0 +/- 25.6 mU/L, p = .017). Insulin levels were higher (7.6 +/- 1.0 vs. 4.3 +/- 0.8 mU/L, p = .02) and IGFBP-1 levels were lower (19.7 +/- 4.6 vs. 43.2 +/- 2.7 mg/L, p = .004) in CFS patients compared with controls. This study provides preliminary data abnormalities of the GH-IGF axis in CFS. It is not apparent whether these changes are components of a primary pathological process or are acquired secondary to behavioral aspects of CFS such as reduced physical activity.

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