The Role of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 in Delirium: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Dimitrios Adamis, Piet Eikelenboom

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Background: The relationship between delirium and low levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is contradictory and uncertain. We hypothesised that low levels of IGF-1 are a predisposing factor for delirium in medical and abdominal surgical cohorts, in contrast to other surgical cohorts. Aims: Systematic review and meta-analysis investigating the association between peripheral levels of IGF-1 and delirium in medical and surgical patients to explore if there are distinct patterns of associations by using subgroup meta-analysis. Methods: PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, Cochrane, and Embase databases were searched. Inclusion criteria were prospective studies in medical and surgical populations and available data. The following were collected: the setting (surgical/medical), the type (orthopaedic surgery, abdominal, cardiovascular, or medical), the number of participants, mean age, the number of delirious patients, scale/criteria for delirium, IGF-1 levels, and MMSE. Results: Thirteen studies were included and analysed. Low levels of IGF-1 are significantly associated with delirium in abdominal surgical samples and medical samples but not in the other surgical samples. Age, cognition, and the setting (medical vs. surgical) do not have any significant effect on the differences in IGF-1 levels between those with and without delirium. Discussion: Delirium in acute medical and abdominal surgery is triggered by low IGF-1 which may reflect chronic conditions like frailty/cachexia/sarcopenia, while in other surgeries perhaps from an inflammatory process. Conclusions: Low peripheral levels of IGF-1 are a predisposing factor for delirium only in acute medical and abdominal surgery. More studies are needed to confirm and to explore further this finding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalDementia and geriatric cognitive disorders
Issue number6
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Biomarkers
  • Delirium
  • Insulin-like growth factor 1
  • Meta-analysis
  • Pathophysiology
  • Systematic review

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