Serum levels of insulin-like growth factor-I are related to age and not to body composition in healthy women and men

Kieran G. O'Connor, Jordan D. Tobin, S. Mitchell Harman, Chris C. Plato, Tracey A. Roy, Sheryl S. Sherman, Marc R. Blackman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Aging is accompanied by decreased bone and lean body mass, increased fat mass, and reduced growth hormone (GH) axis function, reflected in diminished levels of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). Similar changes in body composition occur in nonelderly, GH-deficient adults and are reversible with GH administration, suggesting that diminished GH/IGF-I axis activity may contribute to such age-related changes. To determine the precise pattern of IGF-1 decline with age, and to test the hypothesis that this decline is related to concomitant changes in body composition and bone metabolism independent of age, we conducted a cross-sectional survey in 351 healthy participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Methods. We evaluated relationships among IGF-I, age, and total and regional adiposity, as assessed by body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR); lean body mass, as estimated from urinary creatinine excretion (Crex/ht); bone mineral density (BMD), as assessed by single and dual photon absorptiometry scanning; and circulating levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH), 1,25-(OH)2 D3, 25-OHD, and osteocalcin. Results. Serum IGF-I levels declined with age (p < .0001) in both men (r = -.51) and women (r = -.67). In men, the decline was linear, whereas IGF-I levels decreased faster in women < 45 years of age than in older women (p < .01) or in men (p < .001). IGF-I was inversely related to BMI (p < .005), WHR (p < .001), and PTH (p < .01) in women. IGF-I was positively related to BMD of the hip and radius in both genders (p < .0003) and to Crex/ht (p < .0005) and osteocalcin (p < .0001) in men. With increasing age, Crex/ht and BMD decreased (p < .0001) and WHR, PTH, and osteocalcin increased (p < .005) in both genders, whereas BMI increased only in women (p < .005). After adjustment for age, IGF-I was not significantly related to BMI, WHR, Crex/ht, or BMD in either gender. IGF-I was positively related to 1,25-(OH)2 D3 (p < .01) independently of age in women. Conclusions. Advancing age, rather than declining serum levels of IGF- I, appears to be a major determinant of life-time changes in body composition and BMD in women and men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M176-M182
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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