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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Jul;88(7):3354-9.

Insulin-like growth factor I stimulates telomerase activity in prostate cancer cells.

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  • 1Columbus Children's Hospital, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio 43205, USA.


IGF-I has been implicated in the pathogenesis of human cancer. We sought to establish a role for IGF-I in the regulation of telomerase, an enzyme critically involved in cancer cell immortalization. Telomerase activity was assayed in LAPC-4, PC-3, and DU-145 prostate cancer cell lines treated with and without IGF-I/IGF-I analogs. Relative expression of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) mRNA and protein was determined by quantitative RT-PCR and Western immunoblot, respectively. IGF-I stimulated baseline telomerase activity in all three cell lines, ranging from 2- to 10-fold (P < 0.05). Enhancement was noted at IGF concentrations as low as 10 ng/ml and was maximal at 100 ng/ml. Stimulation was noted by 0.5 h, was maximal by 8 h, and persisted to 48 h. A similar 3-fold enhancement (P < 0.01) was noted in response to Long-R3 IGF-I, but not in response to [Ala(31),Leu(60)]IGF-I. Pretreatment with the Akt kinase inhibitor wortmannin abolished the stimulatory IGF effect, whereas blockade of MAPK activity did not. Lastly, IGF-I provoked a 2-fold increase in hTERT mRNA and protein expression (P < 0.01). In summary, IGF-I clearly stimulates telomerase activity in prostate cancer cells through a dual mode of action, including early rapid effects probably involving phosphorylation of hTERT by Akt and later up-regulation of hTERT expression.

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