Effects of insulin-like growth factor-I administration on in vivo regulation of urea synthesis in normal subjects and patients with cirrhosis

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  • Anaesthesiology
  • The Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology V
  • The Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes
Background: The anabolic effects of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) may involve a decrease of hepatic nitrogen (N) clearance, but this has never been studied in humans. Patients with cirrhosis have low levels of IGF-I and might benefit from IGF-I therapy. Conversely, a possible decrease in hepatic N clearance by IGF-I could increase the risk of hepatic encephalopathy. Aims: To examine the effects of 1-week IGF-I administration on the functional hepatic N clearance (FHNC), viz. the linear slope of the relationship between blood-α-amino-N concentration and urea-N synthesis rate as controlled by an infusion of alanine. Methods: A randomized sequence-crossover placebo-controlled study. Eight healthy volunteers and eight patients with alcoholic cirrhosis received injections of saline or IGF-I twice daily (50 μg/kg) for 7 days. Results: IGF-I levels at baseline were lower in the patients than those in the controls. The IGF-I treatment normalized patient levels and caused an increase in the controls to supra-physiological levels. FHNC was lower in patients compared with healthy subjects (23.0 vs 36.5 L/h, P=0.03). IGF-I treatment reduced FHNC by 30% in healthy subjects (from 36.5 to 25.7 L/h, P=0.02), whereas no effect was found in the patients. Conclusion: IGF-I downregulates urea synthesis in normal subjects. This may be part of the explanation behind the anabolic effects of IGF-I. The normalization of IGF-I in cirrhosis patients without an effect on urea synthesis implies that the patients were resistant to IGF-I with regard to reduction of hepatic amino-N elimination. IGF-I treatment of cirrhosis patients evidently carries no risk of N accumulation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLiver International
Pages (from-to)132-137
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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