Insulin-Like Growth Factor Bioactivity, Stanniocalcin-2, Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A, and IGF-Binding Protein-4 in Pleural Fluid and Serum From Patients With Pulmonary Disease

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Members of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system are primarily produced in the liver and secreted into the circulation, but they are also produced, recruited, and activated locally in tissues.


To compare activity and concentrations of IGF system components in pleural fluid and blood.


Pathological pleural fluid, secondary to lung cancer or nonmalignant disease, and matching blood samples were collected from 24 patients ages 66.7 to 81.9 years.


IGF-related proteins and cytokine levels were measured by immunoassays or immunoblotting. Bioactive IGF was measured by an IGF-1 receptor phosphorylation assay.


Total IGF-1 concentration did not differ between the compartments, but concentrations of free IGF-1 and bioactive IGF were more than threefold higher in pleural fluid than in corresponding serum samples (P = 0.0004), regardless of etiology. Median pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) and interleukin (IL)-6 levels were increased 47-fold and 143-fold, respectively, in pleural fluid compared with plasma (P < 0.0001). PAPP-A and IL-6 concentrations correlated positively (r = 0.46; P = 0.02). In pleural fluid, levels of PAPP-A-generated IGF binding protein-4 fragments correlated inversely with that of stanniocalcin-2 (r ≤ -0.42; P ≤ 0.05), a PAPP-A inhibitor; such correlations were absent in plasma.


Pathological pleural fluid is characterized by increased in vitro IGF bioactivity and elevated concentrations of PAPP-A, an IGF-activating proteinase. Thus, the tissue activity of the IGF system may differ substantially from that of the circulating IGF system. The correlation between IL-6 and PAPP-A indicates that inflammation plays a role in promoting local tissue IGF activity.

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