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Growth Horm IGF Res. 2005 Feb;15(1):4-18. Epub 2005 Jan 21.

Reconciling data from transgenic mice that overexpress IGF-I specifically in skeletal muscle.

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  • 1School of Anatomy and Human Biology, the University of Western Australia, Crawley, Perth, Western Australia 6009, Australia.


Transgenic mice that overexpress insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-I) specifically in skeletal muscle have generated much information about the role of this factor for muscle growth and remodelling and provide insight for therapeutic applications of IGF-I for different pathological states and ageing. However, difficulties arise when attempting to critically compare the significance of data obtained in vivo by using different genetically engineered mouse lines and various experimental models. Complications arise due to complexity of the IGF-I system, since multiple transcripts of the IGF-I gene encode different isoforms generated by alternate promoter usage, differential splicing and post-translational modification, and how IGF-I gene expression relates to its diverse autocrine, paracrine and endocrine modes of action in vivo has still to be elucidated. In addition, there are problems related to specification of the exact IGF-I isoform used, expression patterns of the promoters, and availability of the transgene product under different experimental conditions. This review discusses the factors that must be considered when reconciling data from cumulative studies on IGF-I in striated muscle growth and differentiation using genetically modified mice. Critical evaluation of the literature focuses specifically on: (1) the importance of detailed information about the IGF-I isoforms and their mode of action (local, systemic or both); (2) expression pattern and strength of the promoters used to drive transgenic IGF-I in skeletal muscle cells (mono and multi-nucleated); (3) local compared with systemic action of the transgene product and possible indirect effects of transgenic IGF-I due to upregulation of other genes within skeletal muscle; (4) re-interpretation of these results in light of the most recent approaches to the dissection of IGF-I function. Full understanding of these complex in vivo issues is essential, not only for skeletal muscle but for many other tissues, in order to effectively extend observations derived from transgenic studies into potential clinical situations.

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