Failure to thrive is common in children with celiac disease. As alterations in the growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor I (GH-IGF-I) growth axis have been reported in these patients, we studied the behavior of growth hormone-binding proteins (GH-BPs I and II), IGF-I and its binding proteins in 14 children with celiac disease, either before or after a 6-month gluten-free diet. GH-BP II levels were significantly lower in patients during the active phase of the disease than after the diet or in comparison with control subjects, appropriate for age and sex. There was no difference in the GH-BP-I levels of patients and controls, nor did they change after the diet. Blood levels of IGF-I and IGFBP-3 were reduced before the diet in all patients while ligand blotting showed that IGFBP-2 and 1 were increased. All of these parameters normalized after the gluten-free diet. IGFBP-4 was not greatly influenced by the disease. Furthermore, we found a significant, positive correlation between GH-BP II and IGF-I or IGFBP-3 levels. The height standard deviation scores and body mass indices of the patients improved significantly after the diet. The body mass index significantly and positively correlated with GH-BP II, IGF-I or IGFBP-3 levels. In conclusion, our data show that celiac children had multiple alterations in the growth axis during the active phase of the disease which disappeared during the gluten-free diet.

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