OBJECTIVE: To analyze the possible utility of measuring acid-labile subunit (ALS) in some types of pathologies in which the IGF system is altered and to compare it with the clinical implications of measurements of other components of this axis. DESIGN AND METHODS: We studied serum ALS concentrations in 20 children with normal variants of short stature (NVSS) at diagnosis and 24 with growth hormone deficiency (GHD), 18 obese patients and 18 girls with anorexia nervosa at diagnosis and during a follow-up period. RESULTS: In patients with GHD and anorexia nervosa, mean ALS concentrations were significantly reduced, but there was a high percentage of overlap with control values. At diagnosis, ALS concentrations were normal in obese patients and children with NVSS. During follow-up, these values normalized in children with GHD who were treated with GH, tended to normalize in those with anorexia nervosa who showed weight gain, and did not change in obese children upon weight loss. However, ALS measurement was less accurate than that of IGF-I or IGF binding protein (IGFBP)-3 in diagnosis of GHD. The correlations found between ALS and some IGF system components at diagnosis either decreased or were non-significant during follow-up of these clinical conditions. CONCLUSION: ALS adds little information to that obtained with IGF-I and IGFBP-3 determinations.
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