Erythropoiesis was investigated in 32 children wih short stature and in eight children with skeletal dysplasia by studying blood hemoglobin in relation to growth and to serum concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), IGF binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3), and erythropoietin (EPO) before, during, and after 12 months of recombinant human growth hormone (GH) treatment. Blood hemoglobin concentration was positively correlated with relative body height and with serum IGF-I and IGFBP-3 levels (P = .001 to .02), but not with the concentrations of EPO. The normal age-dependency of hemoglobin was lacking. Hemoglobin levels and their responses to GH treatment were similar in the patients with GH deficiency and those with normal GH secretion. Treatment with GH accelerated growth and elevated the concentrations of hemoglobin, IGF- I, and IGFBP-3. In the eight patients with skeletal dysplasia, body mass increased similarly, but gain in height was less than in the other patients, and the increase in hemoglobin was markedly pronounced. In this group, the correlations between hemoglobin, IGF-I, and IGFBP-3 were extremely close (r = 0.80 to 0.85, P = .031 to .008). These findings are in accord with earlier observations from in vitro and animal studies, and suggest that the GH-IGF axis is involved in the physiologic elevation of hemoglobin levels during childhood.

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