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Diabetologia. 2007 Dec;50(12):2534-43. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

IGF-1 receptor signalling determines the mitogenic potency of insulin analogues in human smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Biochemistry and Pathobiochemistry, German Diabetes Center, Auf'm Hennekamp 65, D-40225, Dusseldorf, Germany.



Mitogenic activity of insulin and insulin analogues and the involvement of the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) is still a controversial issue. We compared levels of the proteins IGF-1R and insulin receptor (InsR) in fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells from healthy donors and assessed the downstream signalling and growth-promoting activity of insulin and insulin analogues.


DNA synthesis was monitored in human fibroblasts and coronary artery smooth muscle cells. Using small interfering RNAs, the levels of IGF-1 and InsR were reduced by 95 and 75%, respectively.


Enhanced mitogenic potency of insulin and insulin analogues was observed which correlated with increased levels of IGF-1R and/or IRS-1. A reduction in the IGF-1R level significantly blunted stimulation of Akt phosphorylation by IGF-1, AspB10 and glargine by 72, 58 and 40%, respectively. Akt phosphorylation in response to insulin remained unaffected. Silencing of InsR did not significantly alter Akt phosphorylation in response to IGF-1, AspB10 and glargine. IGF-1R knockdown reduced the stimulation of DNA synthesis in response to IGF-1 and glargine to a level identical to that produced by insulin.


These data show a prominent role of IGF-1R/Akt signalling in mediating the mitogenic effects of insulin analogues. Regular insulin stimulates DNA synthesis by exclusively activating InsR, whereas insulin analogues mainly signal through IGF-1R. It is suggested that inter-individual differences in the levels of proteins of the IGF-1R system may function as a critical determinant of the mitogenic potency of insulin analogues.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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