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J Nutr Health Aging. 1999;3(2):92-101.

Roles for insulin-like growth factor-1 in mediating the anti-carcinogenic effects of caloric restriction.

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  • 1Laboratory of Environmental Carcinogenesis and Mutagenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


This paper focuses on the role of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and its associated regulatory apparatus as a key endocrine, autocrine, and paracrine signalling system involved in mediating the anti-carcinogenic activity of dietary restriction. Literature is reviewed showing that the inhibitory action of dietary restriction on carcinogenesis is global and pervasive--it is effective in several laboratory species, for a variety of tumor types, and for both spontaneous tumors and tumors caused by different types of tumor-inducing agents. Evidence is presented showing the IGF-1 pathway responds appropriately to nutritional interventions including diet restriction. Recent evidence points to an obligatory role for the IGF-1 receptor in the establishment and maintenance of the transformed phenotype and reveals that IGF-1 in concert with insulin-like binding protein 3 and p53 is involved in autocrine/paracrine growth signaling pathways as adaptive responses to environmental stimuli. Considered together these works show that the IGF-1 pathway is uniquely poised to influence cellular transformation leading to the malignant phenotype by modulating the balance of cellular proliferation and cell death (apoptosis) in precancerous and cancerous cells and by influencing metastasis of nascent tumors. We evaluated these hypotheses directly using animal models of mononuclear cell leukemia, bladder transitional cell carcinogenesis, and breast cancer. Our studies demonstrate that manipulation of IGF-1 level through dietary intervention influences tumor growth and metastasis. Upregulation of this pathway demonstrated that increased IGF-1 stimulates tumor proliferation, progression and metastasis. Conversely, downregulation of this pathway in vivo as a consequence of dietary restriction results in antitumorigenic activity. We found that the functional disruption of IGF-1R markedly influences breast cancer metastasis in nude mice by suppressing cellular adhesion, invasion, and metastasis of breast cancer cells to the lung, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels. Epidemiological observations and clinical oncology results support the involvement of IGF-1 in carcinogenesis and anticarcinogenesis. This leads to the hypothesis that factors such as IGF-1 which regulate body size and composition may be related to human cancer incidence or prognosis. Additional understanding of this pathway and its interactions with other signaling pathways will advance our ability to develop new interventions towards decreased cancer risk in humans.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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