OBJECTIVE: Human aging is accompanied by a decrease in growth hormone secretion and serum insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 levels. Also, loss of muscle mass and strength and impairment of physical performance, ending in a state of frailty, are seen in elderly. We aimed to investigate whether handgrip strength, physical performance and recurrent falls are related to serum IGF-1 levels in community-dwelling elderly.
DESIGN: Observational cohort study (cross-sectional and prospective).
METHODS: We studied the association between IGF-1 and handgrip strength, physical performance and falls in participants of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. A total of 1292 participants were included (633 men, 659 women). Serum IGF-1 levels were divided into quartiles (IGF-1-Q1 to IGF-1-Q4). Data on falls were collected prospectively for a period of 3 years. All analyses were stratified for age and physical activity and adjusted for relevant confounders.
RESULTS: Men with a low physical activity score in IGF-1-Q1 and IGF-1-Q2 of the younger age group had a lower handgrip strength compared to IGF-1-Q4. In younger more active males in IGF-1-Q2 physical performance was worse. Recurrent fallers were less prevalent in older, low active males with low IGF-1 levels. In females, recurrent fallers were more prevalent in older, more active females in IGF-1-Q2. IGF-1 quartile may predict changes in handgrip strength and physical performance in men and women.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that lower IGF-1 levels are associated with lower handgrip strength and worse physical performance, but less recurrent fallers especially in men. Associations were often more robust in IGF-1-Q2. Future studies on this topic are desirable.