Introduction: Pathologically high growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels in patients with acromegaly are associated with arthropathy. Several studies highlight the potential role of the GH/IGF-1 axis in primary osteoarthritis (OA). We aimed to disentangle the role of IGF-1 levels in primary OA pathogenesis.
Methods: Patients from the Genetics osteoARthritis and Progression (GARP) Study with familial, generalized, symptomatic OA (n = 337, mean age: 59.8 ± 7.4 years, 82% female) were compared to Leiden Longevity Study (LLS) controls (n = 456, mean age: 59.8 ± 6.8 years, 51% female). Subjects were clinically and radiographically assessed, serum IGF-1 levels were measured, and 10 quantitative trait loci (QTL) in the FOXO3, IGFBP3/TNS3, RPA3, SPOCK2 genes, previously related to serum IGF-1 levels, were genotyped. Linear or binary logistic generalized estimating equation models were performed.
Results: Serum IGF-1 levels were increased in OA patients, with male patients exhibiting the strongest effect (males OR = 1.10 (1.04-1.17), P=0.002 vs females OR = 1.04 (1.01-1.07), P = 0.02). Independent of the increased IGF-1 levels, male carriers of the minor allele of FOXO3 QTL rs4946936 had a lower risk to develop hip OA (OR = 0.41 (0.18-0.90), P = 0.026). Additionally, independent of IGF-1 levels, female carriers of the minor alleles of RPA3 QTL rs11769597 had a higher risk to develop knee OA (OR = 1.90 (1.20-2.99), P = 0.006).
Conclusion: Patients with primary OA had significantly higher IGF-1 levels compared to controls. Moreover, SNPs in the FOXO3 and RPA3 genes were associated with an altered risk of OA. Therefore, altered IGF-1 levels affect the development of OA, and are potentially the result of the pathophysiological OA process.