Higher Serum IGF-1 Concentrations Linked to Lower Risk of COVID-19 Mortality

Sarfaroj Khan 


January 15, 2021


  • This study found an inverse association between pre-diagnostic serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) concentrations and COVID-19 mortality risk among patients with COVID-19.

Why this matters

  • Findings suggest a potential role of IGF-1 in COVID-19 prognosis and have implications for risk stratification and tailored treatment of patients with COVID-19.

  • Further studies are needed to determine whether and how targeting IGF-1 pathway might improve COVID-19 prognosis.

Study design

  • This observational study included 1670 patients with COVID-19 using data from the UK Biobank.

  • Association between IGF-1 concentrations and mortality risk among patients with COVID-19 who had pre-diagnostic serum IGF-1 measurements at baseline (2006-2010) was evaluated.

  • Funding: National Natural Science Foundation of China and others.

Key results

  • A total of 415 deaths occurred because of COVID-19.

  • Compared with the lower quartile (Q1) of IGF-1 concentrations, the highest quartile (Q4) was associated with a reduced risk of COVID-19 mortality (adjusted OR [aOR], 0.59; 95% CI, 0.41-0.86; Ptrend=.01).

  • In the continuous model, per 1-standard deviation increment in log-transformed IGF-1 was associated with a lower risk of COVID-19 mortality (intraclass correlation coefficients corrected aOR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.73-0.99).

  • The association was largely consistent across various stratified and sensitivity analyses.

  • The association appeared to be stronger in non-White participants and non-smokers (both P-interaction <.05).


  • Observational nature of the study prevented from inferring causality.

  • A single IGF-1 measurement at baseline may not represent the levels over 10 years.


Fan X, Yin C, Wang J, Yang M, Ma H, Jin G, Song M, Hu Z, Shen H, Hang D. Pre-diagnostic circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 and risk of COVID-19 mortality: results from UK Biobank. Eur J Epidemiol. 2021 Jan 9 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1007/s10654-020-00709-1. PMID: 33420872.  View full text

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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