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The IGF system and longitudinal growth in preterm infants in relation to gestational age, birth weight and gender

Journal article
Authors Ann Hellström
J. Sigurdsson
Chatarina Löfqvist
Gunnel Hellgren
A. Kistner
Published in Growth Hormone & Igf Research
Volume 51
Pages 46-57
ISSN 1096-6374
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Biomedicine
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 46-57
Language en
Keywords Preterm children, IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-I, ALS, acid-labile subunit, factor-i, binding protein-1, postnatal-growth, insulin, retinopathy, prematurity, leptin, deficiency, variables, Cell Biology, Endocrinology & Metabolism
Subject categories Pediatrics, Neurology


Objective: Growth factors in the blood of very preterm infants may reflect growth and contribute to the understanding of early development. We investigated postnatal levels of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in infants born very preterm and related them to early growth development. Design: Blood samples were analyzed weekly for IGF-I, IGF-II, IGF binding protein (BP)-1, IGFBP-3, and acid-label subunit (ALS). Methods: 73 children born very preterm (gestational age (GA) < 32 weeks) were divided according to their gender-specific birth weight standard deviation score (SDS) into either appropriate for GA (AGA) or small for GA (SGA). Fifty-two (71%) and forty-three (59%) infants completed follow-up with anthropometry at approximately 3 years and at 5 years of age respectively. Thirty-six subjects (49%) had blood sampling for IGF-I and IGFBP-3 measurements up to 3 years of age. Results: IGF-I, IGFBP-3, and ALS levels increased in all groups from week 31 to week 36, with generally lower levels in the SGAs, with a concomitant lower growth velocity. Postnatal ALS was strongly associated with IGF-I and IGFBP-3 in boys, girls and AGA infants. IGF-II was higher in earlier born preterms (GA < 27 weeks) at postmenstrual ages 27.5-29.9 weeks compared with SGAs and late GA (GA >= 27 weeks) preterms (p <.0001). IGF-II, in contrast to IGF-I, did not differ between SGAs and AGAs at weeks 31-36. Mean IGFBP-1 was highest in the SGAs compared to AGAs at mean week 28,5 and 31 (p=.001) and IGFBP-1 levels were elevated in relation to IGF-I in the SGAs at that period. At follow-up, the increase in IGF-I between week 31 and 33.5 was a significant positive determinant of height SDS at 3 and 5 years of age in forward multiple regression analysis, independent of target height. Conclusion: This is the first study to investigate postnatal ALS levels in preterm infants. In very preterm infants, IGF-II is less affected by size at birth during early postnatal weeks compared with IGF-I. Early elevated IGFBP-1 might protect the SGA infants from an intense metabolic rate. Our results indicate that anabolic and metabolic processes during weeks 31-36 predicts later height.

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