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Human conditions of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) deficiency

Juan E Puche and Inma Castilla-Cortázar*

Author Affiliations

Applied Molecular Medicine Institute (IMMA), School of Medicine, Department of Medical Physiology, Universidad CEU San Pablo, Madrid, Spain

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2012, 10:224  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-10-224

Published: 14 November 2012


Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is a polypeptide hormone produced mainly by the liver in response to the endocrine GH stimulus, but it is also secreted by multiple tissues for autocrine/paracrine purposes. IGF-I is partly responsible for systemic GH activities although it possesses a wide number of own properties (anabolic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective actions).

IGF-I is a closely regulated hormone. Consequently, its logical therapeutical applications seems to be limited to restore physiological circulating levels in order to recover the clinical consequences of IGF-I deficiency, conditions where, despite continuous discrepancies, IGF-I treatment has never been related to oncogenesis. Currently the best characterized conditions of IGF-I deficiency are Laron Syndrome, in children; liver cirrhosis, in adults; aging including age-related-cardiovascular and neurological diseases; and more recently, intrauterine growth restriction.

The aim of this review is to summarize the increasing list of roles of IGF-I, both in physiological and pathological conditions, underlying that its potential therapeutical options seem to be limited to those proven states of local or systemic IGF-I deficiency as a replacement treatment, rather than increasing its level upper the normal range.

Laron syndrome; Liver cirrhosis; Aging; Oxidative stress; GH/IGF-I axis; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Cellular protection; Growth; Cancer protection