The insulin-like growth factor axis and plasma lipid levels in the elderly

Gian Paolo Ceda, Elisabetta Dall'aglio, Andrea Magnacavallo, Nicola Vargas, Vittorio Fontana, Marcello Maggio, Giorgio Valenti, Phillip D.K. Lee, Raymond L. Hintz, Andrew R. Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The activity of the hypothalamic-GH-insulin-like growth factor (IGF) network declines with age. It has recently been shown that increased cardiovascular mortality occurs in adults with GH deficiency. As hypercholesterolemia is common in GH-deficient adults, and because there is experimental evidence that GH may play a role in regulating plasma cholesterol, we decided to investigate the activity of the GH-IGF axis in an elderly population by measuring serum IGF-I, IGF-II, and IGF-binding protein- 3 (IGFBP-3) levels and to study their relationship with blood lipid levels. One hundred and thirty-two elderly subjects, 52 men and 80 women, were studied (age range, 60-91 yr). Men had significantly lower levels of IGFBP- 3, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and apoprotein A1 (ApoA1) compared to the women, whereas IGF-I and IGF-II were only slightly lower. Using linear regression analysis, we observed an inverse relationship of age with IGF-I (r = -0.35; P < 0.001), IGF-II (r = 0.40; P < 0.001), IGFBP-3 (r = 0.52; P < 0.001), body mass index, and lipid levels. Univariate regression analysis showed a strong and positive correlation of both IGF-I and IGFBP-3 with HDL-C and ApoA1. Partial correlation analysis, after adjustment for age and body mass index, showed that IGFBP-3 and IGF-II were still significantly and positively related to HDL-C and ApoA1. Furthermore, a strong association was documented among IGF-I, IGF-II, and IGFBP-3. These data demonstrate that even in an elderly population, further aging is accompanied by a progressive decline in circulating IGF-I, IGF-II, and IGFBP-3, suggesting a continuing diminution of the GH-IGF axis throughout aging. Moreover, the strong correlation between HDL-C and an index of GH secretion, such as IGFBP-3, suggests that GH might play an important role in lipid metabolism in healthy elderly subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-502
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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