Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system components are important regulators of bone formation. Alterations of individual IGF system components have been described in osteoporosis (OP) patients; however, no study has addressed changes in free IGF-I and in all six IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs).
A cross-sectional study was performed in 45 OP patients and 100 healthy matched controls. Serum levels of free and total insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), IGFBP-1 through -6, intact parathyroid hormone (PTH), 25-OH-vitamin D3 (25OHD3), 1,25-(OH)2-vitamin D3 (1,25-(OH)2D3), osteocalcin (OSC), bone alkaline phosphatase (B-ALP), and carboxyterminal propeptide of type-I procollagen (PICP) were measured with specific assays. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine was determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).
Compared with age- and sex-matched control subjects, OP patients showed a 73% decrease in free IGF-I, a 29% decrease in total IGF-I, a 10% decrease in IGFBP-3, and a 52% decrease in IGFBP-5 levels; they had higher levels of IGFBP-1 (4.1-fold), IGFBP-2 (1.8-fold), IGFBP-4 (1.3-fold), and IGFBP-6 (2.1-fold). Alterations in IGF system components were most evident in 13 OP patients with vertebral fractures in the past 4 years compared to patients without fractures. In OP patients with fractures, the ratio between IGFBP-4 and IGFBP-5 was increased whereas levels of OSC were decreased.
Our data provide strong indirect evidence for a functional connection between circulating IGF system components and bone metabolism and the susceptibility to fractures in OP patients.