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Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 768731, 12 pages
Review Article

The Insulin-Like Growth Factor System and Nutritional Assessment

1Peptide Hormones Supraregional Assay Service (SAS), Clinical Biochemistry Department, Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XX, UK
2Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH, UK

Received 28 May 2012; Accepted 5 July 2012

Academic Editors: W. L. Dees, G. Garibotto, E. Hajduch, S. M. Hileman, and R. Laybutt

Copyright © 2012 Callum Livingstone. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over recent years there has been considerable interest in the role of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system in health and disease. It has long been known to be dysregulated in states of under- and overnutrition, serum IGF-I levels falling in malnourished patients and responding promptly to nutritional support. More recently, other proteins in this system have been observed to be dysregulated in both malnutrition and obesity. Currently no biochemical marker is sufficiently specific for use in screening for malnutrition, but levels may be valuable in providing information on nutritional status and in monitoring of nutritional support. All have limitations as nutritional markers in that their serum levels are influenced by factors other than nutritional status, most importantly the acute phase response (APR). Levels should be interpreted along with clinical findings and the results of other investigations such as C-reactive protein (CRP). This paper reviews data supporting the use of proteins of the IGF system as nutritional markers.