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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether perturbations of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) were associated with the presence of chronic widespread pain (CWP) in men. METHODS: The European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) is an 8-center population-based study of men aged 40-79 years recruited from population registers. A questionnaire asked about the presence and duration of musculoskeletal pain, from which subjects reporting CWP were identified. Subjects also had an interviewer-assisted questionnaire: levels of physical activity and mood were assessed, and height and weight were measured. IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 were assayed from a fasting blood sample. Logistic regression models were used to determine the association between IGF measures and CWP. Results were expressed as odds ratios or relative risk ratios. RESULTS: A total of 3206 subjects provided full data. Of those, 1314 (39.0%) reported no pain in the past month and 278 (8.3%) reported pain that satisfied criteria for CWP. IGF-1 concentrations were similar among subjects who reported no pain and those with CWP: 131.5 mg/l and 128.4 mg/l, respectively. This was true also for IGFBP-3 (4.3 and 4.3 mg/l). Obesity was associated with low IGF-1 and a high IGFBP-3/IGF-1 ratio, indicating less bioavailable IGF-1, irrespective of pain status. This relationship persisted after adjustment for comorbidities, depression, smoking, alcohol consumption, and quality of life. CONCLUSION: Overall CWP was not associated with perturbations in IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 concentrations. Hypofunctioning of the axis was noted among subjects who were obese and this was not specific to CWP. These data suggest that IGF-1 is unlikely to be etiologically important in relation to CWP, although the relationship with growth hormone remains to be elucidated.

Original publication




Journal article


J rheumatol

Publication Date





2523 - 2530


Adult, Aged, Aging, Body Mass Index, Chronic Disease, Depression, Europe, Humans, Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3, Insulin-Like Growth Factor I, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Pain, Surveys and Questionnaires