Tissue-specific regulation of IGF-I and IGF-binding proteins in response to TNFα

Charles H. Lang, Gerald J. Nystrom, Robert A. Frost

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43 Scopus citations


The circulating concentration of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) is regulated by both its rate of synthesis and its ability to form stable complexes with IGF-binding proteins (IGFBPs). An equilibrium between IGF-I and IGFBPs is thought to help maintain muscle protein balance. In contrast, catabolic conditions disrupt the IGF system and result in the loss of skeletal muscle protein. We have examined the mechanisms by which tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα), a catabolic cytokine, alters the IGF system. Conscious rats were infused intravenously with recombinant human TNFα or vehicle for 24 h. TNFα decreased the concentration of both total and free IGF-I in the plasma (30-40%). This change was associated with a reduction in IGF-I mRNA expression in liver (39%), gastrocnemius (73%), soleus (46%) and heart (63%), but a 2.5-fold increase in the whole kidney. In contrast, TNFα did not alter IGF-II mRNA expression in skeletal muscle. TNFα also increased IGFBP-1 in the blood (4-fold) and this response was associated with an increase in IGFBP-1 mRNA expression in both liver (3-fold) and kidney (9-fold). In contrast, IGFBP-3 levels in the blood were reduced 38% in response to the infusion of TNFα. This change was accompanied by a 60-80% reduction of IGFBP-3 mRNA in liver and kidney but no significant change in muscle. Hepatic mRNA levels of the acid-labile subunit were also reduced by TNFα (46%). Finally, tissue expression of mac25 (also referred to IGFBP-related protein-1) mRNA was increased in gastrocnemius (50%) but remained unchanged in liver and kidney. These results more fully characterize the changes in various elements of the IGF system and, thereby, provide potential mechanisms for the alterations in the circulating IGF system as well as for changes in tissue metabolism observed during catabolic insults associated with increased TNFα expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-260
Number of pages11
JournalGrowth Hormone and IGF Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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