IGFBP-1 levels in adult women born small for gestational age suggest insulin resistance in spite of normal BMI


Kerstin Brismar, Department of Molecular Medicine, Unit of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden (fax: +46 8 5177 30 96; e-mail: kerstin.brismar@ks.se).


Objective.  Impaired fetal development may contribute to decreased insulin sensitivity. This study was designed to characterize serum markers of insulin resistance in adults born small for date or born prematurely.

Study design.  Fifty subjects, all women, were evaluated at a mean age ± SD of 26 ± 2 years (range: 23–30 years). They were allocated to three groups: (i) born fullterm with birth weight <2600 g (n = 18) (small for gestational age, SGA), (ii) born before gestational week 32 (n = 15) (ex-preterm), and (iii) controls, born fullterm with appropriate birth weight (n = 17). Anthropometric data as well as fasting serum samples of plasma B-glucose, serum lipids, insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) levels were determined.

Results.  In the SGA group final height was lower and they weighed less compared with the controls. Fasting insulin and glucose levels did not differ amongst the groups. Triglycerides were lower in the SGA group and in the ex-preterm group compared with the controls (P < 0.05). The SGA group showed lower IGFBP-1 levels compared with the controls median 17 (range 3–121) vs. 26 (7–67) μg L−1; P < 0.05]. The IGF-I levels in the SGA, ex-preterm and control groups were 212 ± 58, 259 ± 37 and 216 ± 32 μg L−1, respectively, corresponding to a mean SD score of −0.8 ± 1.0, 0.1 ± 0.6 and −0.6 ± 0.6.

Conclusion.  As IGFBP-1 is a marker of insulin sensitivity, the low levels observed in adult women with normal BMI, born small for date, suggest relative insulin resistance in spite of normal BMI.