Nutritional Status in Short Stature Children Is Related to Both Ghrelin and Insulin-like Growth Factor I Concentrations

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Ghrelin plays an important role in the growth processes in children. In addition, it regulates appetite. The aim of the study was to assess ghrelin and insulin-like growth factor type I (IGF-I) concentrations in children with idiopathic short stature, dependent on nutritional status.


The study group included 116 children, ages 10.6 ± 3.5 years (mean ± standard deviation), with idiopathic short stature (height <−2.0 standard deviation scores [SDS], maximal growth hormone [GH] secretion during 2 GH-stimulating tests—>10 ng/mL). In each child, fasting ghrelin, IGF-I, insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), glucose, insulin, lipids, leptin, adiponectin, and resistin concentrations were assessed. The IGF-I/IGFBP-3 molar ratio was calculated to determine the IGF-I bioavailability. According to body mass index SDS calculated for height age, the children were divided into 3 groups: poorly nourished (thin), normal, and obese. The control group consisted of 19 healthy children, ages 11.0 ± 3.5 years, with normal body weight and height.


Ghrelin concentration was significantly higher in short, thin children than in short, obese children (1458.3 ± 798.5 vs 917.2 ± 303.0 pg/mL; P < 0.005). In turn, IGF-I/IGFBP-3 molar ratio was significantly lower in short, thin children than in short, obese children (0.16 ± 0.06 vs 0.28 ± 0.15; P < 0.005).


In short, thin children, despite elevated ghrelin production, the low IGF-I concentration is observed, probably due to undernutrition and worse IGF-I formation. In short, normal-weight children and in short, obese ones, ghrelin and IGF-I production is normal, and it seems that mechanisms responsible for their short stature are other than low IGF-I.

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