The relationship between growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor–1 (IGF-1) in patients with acromegaly as serial levels drop over time after treatment has not been examined previously. Knowledge of this relationship is important to correlate pretreatment levels that best predict response to treatment. To examine the correlation between GH and IGF-1 and IGF-1 z-scores over a wide range of GH levels, the authors examined serial GH and IGF-1 levels at intervals before and after surgery and radiosurgery for acromegaly.
This retrospective analysis correlates 414 pairs of GH and IGF-1 values in 93 patients with acromegaly.
Absolute IGF-1 levels increase linearly with GH levels only up to a GH of 4 ng/ml, and with IGF-1 z-scores only to a GH level of 1 ng/ml. Between GH levels of 1 and 10 ng/ml, increases in IGF-1 z-scores relative to changes in GH diminish and then plateau at GH concentrations of about 10 ng/ml. From patient to patient there is a wide range of threshold GH levels beyond which IGF-1 increases are no longer linear, GH levels at which the IGF-1 response plateaus, IGF-1 levels at similar GH values after the IGF-1 response plateaus, and of IGF-1 levels at similar GH levels.
In acromegaly, although IGF-1 levels represent a combination of the integrated effects of GH secretion and GH action, the tumor produces GH, not IGF-1. Nonlinearity between GH and IGF-1 occurs at GH levels far below those previously recognized. To monitor tumor activity and tumor viability requires measurement of GH levels.