Background: Growth-and-differentiation factor-15 (GDF15) is a regulator of energy homeostasis, and is used as biomarker of several pathological states.
Objectives: To assess longitudinally GDF15 concentrations in a cohort of infants born either appropriate- (AGA, n=70) or small-for-gestational-age (SGA, n=33), the latter known to be at increased risk for central adiposity and metabolic alterations, particularly when they experience a rapid postnatal catch-up in weight.
Methods: Assessments included body length, weight, and ponderal index (PI); fasting glucose, insulin, IGF-I, HMW-adiponectin, GDF15; body composition (by absorptiometry) at birth, 4, 12 and 24 months.
Results: GDF15 levels at birth were significantly higher than those at each subsequent time point (P<0.001), and were similar in AGA and SGA subjects. GDF15 levels dropped at age 4 months, particularly in SGA infants (P=0.008 vs AGA), and continued to decline progressively in both subgroups reaching adult concentrations by age 24 months. GDF15 levels correlated inversely with the changes in PI and IGF-I at each time point, and with the gain in body fat over 24 months.
Conclusions: Early life is associated with supra-adult concentrations of GDF15. The reduced levels of GDF15 in SGA subjects early in postnatal life may be an adaptive mechanism to promote food intake and postnatal catch-up in weight, favoring a positive energy balance. Further follow-up will disclose whether this outcome may increase the risks for obesity later in life.
19 - 21 Sep 2019
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology