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Keywords:

  • insulin-like growth factors;
  • insulin-like growth factor binding proteins;
  • bone density

Abstract

The role of the IGFs and IGFBPs on age-related changes in BMD in adult men and women is not well understood. Studying an age-stratified community based sample of 344 men and 276 women, we found higher IGFBP-2 levels to be associated with lower BMD. IGFBP-2, which increases with age in both men and women, was the strongest, most consistent predictor of BMD among the IGF/IGFBPs studied.

Introduction: Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and their binding proteins (IGFBPs) are important regulators of tissue growth and metabolism, but their association with BMD in adult men and women is controversial.

Materials and Methods: In an age-stratified, random sample of the community population, we examined the role of serum levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, and IGFBP-1, −2, and −3 on BMD of the proximal femur (total hip), lateral spine, midshaft, and ultradistal radius as measured by DXA. We explored the association before and after adjustment for potential confounders, including age, bioavailable estradiol and testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and measures of total fat and skeletal muscle mass.

Results: We studied 344 men (age, 23-90 years) and 276 women (age, 21-93 years; 166 postmenopausal) not on hormone replacement or oral contraceptives. In both men and women, IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels fell with advancing age, whereas IGFBP-2 levels tended to rise with age. There was an inverse association of IGFBP-2 with BMD at most skeletal sites in men and both premenopausal and postmenopausal women, whereas lower IGF-I and IGFBP-3 were associated with lower BMD in men and postmenopausal women only. Lower IGF-II was associated with lower BMD in men only. There were no associations between IGFBP-1 and BMD in either sex. After adjustment for age, in most cases, we found no further associations between IGF-I, IGF-II, or IGFBP-3 and BMD. In contrast, after age adjustment, higher IGFBP-2 remained a predictor of lower BMD in men and postmenopausal women at all sites except for the lateral spine (for men: r = −0.21, −0.20, and −0.19, all p < 0.001; and for postmenopausal women: r = −0.34, −0.24, and −0.25, all p < 0.01, for the total hip, midshaft, and ultradistal radius, respectively). IGFBP-2 remained an independent negative predictor of BMD in men, postmenopausal women, and all women combined after additional adjustment for bioavailable sex steroids, but not at all sites after adjustment for SHBG and muscle mass. In premenopausal women, IGFBP-2 had similar associations as seen in postmenopausal women, but they were weaker and not statistically robust.

Conclusions: Among the IGF/IGFBPs in our study, IGFBP-2 was a key negative predictor of BMD among men and women, particularly postmenopausal women. Our findings suggest a potential role of the IGF/IGFBP system in regulating bone loss in aging men and women and identify a previously under-recognized, potentially deleterious role for IGFBP-2, a known inhibitor of IGF action that increases with age in both sexes. Whether the action of the IGF/IGFBP system on bone metabolism is mediated partly through its effects on muscle mass or SHBG deserves further study.