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Failure of IGF-I and IGFBP-3 to diagnose growth hormone insufficiency
  1. H Mitchell,
  2. M T Dattani,
  3. V Nanduri,
  4. P C Hindmarsh,
  5. M A Preece,
  6. C G D Brook
  1. London Centre for Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street and The Middlesex Hospitals, London W1H 8AA, UK
  1. Professor C G D Brook, Cobbold Laboratories, The Middlesex Hospital, Mortimer Street, London W1A 8AA, UK. email:c.brook{at}


BACKGROUND Growth hormone insufficiency (GHI) is diagnosed conventionally by short stature and slow growth, and is confirmed by diminished peak GH response to a provocation test. Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) have previously been considered individually

OBJECTIVE To test the hypothesis that the combined analysis of IGF-I and IGFBP-3 could act as a surrogate marker for the diagnosis of GHI.

DESIGN Reference ranges for IGF-I and IGFBP-3 were calculated using 521 normal individuals. A retrospective analysis was performed on 318 children referred for investigation of short stature.

RESULTS No significant difference was found between either the IGF-I or IGFBP-3 standard deviation scores (SDSs) in children with and without GHI. If the requirement were for both tests to be positive (< −2 SDS) for a diagnosis of GHI, then 99% of children without GHI would be correctly identified; however, the sensitivity of the test was only 15%.

CONCLUSIONS Neither IGF-I nor IGFBP-3 alone is a marker for GHI. In addition, they cannot be used as an effective screening test in combination.

  • insulin-like growth factor I
  • insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3
  • growth hormone insufficiency
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