Serum insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin-like growth factor binding proteins, and bone mineral content in hyperthyroidism

Peter Lakatos*, Janos Foldes, Zsolt Nagy, Istvan Takacs, Gabor Speer, Csaba Horvath, Subburaman Mohan, David J. Baylink, Paula H Stern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The mechanism by which thyroid hormones promote bone growth has not yet been elucidated. In vitro, thyroid hormones stimulate insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) production by osteoblasts, which is important for the anabolic effects of the hormone on bone. To determine whether the IGF-I/IGF binding protein (IGFBP) profile is affected when thyroid hormone production is altered in vivo, we studied 36 women who had recently been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (age: 29-67 years; 19 with Graves' disease, 17 with toxic nodular goiter) and 36 age-matched healthy women as controls. Serum IGF-I, and its binding proteins (IGFBP-3, IGFBP-4, and IGFBP-5), as well as bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine, femoral neck, and radius midshaft were measured before and 1 year after antithyroid (methimazole) treatment. Serum IGF-I levels were significantly increased in the hyperthyroid patients before treatment (214 ± 18.2 ng/mL vs. 145 ± 21.3 ng/mL; p < 0.05). There was no difference in IGF-I levels of patients with Graves' disease and toxic nodular goiter. Serum IGF-I concentrations returned to normal after treatment with methimazole. Serum IGFBP-3 and IGFBP-4 values were significantly elevated in the hyperthyroid group before treatment (3960 ± 220 ng/mL and 749.7 ± 53.1 ng/mL vs. 2701 ± 180 ng/mL and 489.9 ± 32.4 ng/mL; p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively) and were reduced to those of controls after treatment. Serum IGFBP-5 of hyperthyroid subjects was not different from that of controls either before or after therapy. Serum free thyroxine showed a positive correlation with serum levels of IGF-I (r = 0.73, p < 0.05), IGFBP-3 (r = 0.59, p < 0.05), and IGFBP-4 (r = 0.67, p < 0.05) but not IGFBP-5. BMD at the radius midshaft was significantly lower in hyperthyroid patients at the start of the study and showed a positive correlation with serum IGF-I (r 0.58; p < 0.001) and a negative correlation with IGFBP-4 (r = -0.61; p < 0.05). Radius BMD showed a 7.2% increase in the hyperthyroid group after 1 year of methimazole treatment, and the correlation between BMD and serum IGF- I disappeared. Our data indicate that thyroid hormones may influence the IGF- I/IGFBP system in vivo in hyperthyroidism. The anabolic effects of increased levels of IGF-I may be limited in hyperthyroidism due to the increases of inhibitory IGFBPs that can counteract the anabolic effects and contribute to the observed net bone loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-423
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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