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Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Dec 15;14(24):8263-9. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-0480. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

Plasma insulin-like growth factors, insulin-like binding protein-3, and outcome in metastatic colorectal cancer: results from intergroup trial N9741.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and IGF-II stimulate neoplastic cell growth and inhibit apoptosis, whereas IGF-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) inhibits the bioavailability of IGF-I and has independent proapoptotic activity. We examined the influence of baseline plasma levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-3, and C-peptide on outcome among patients receiving first-line chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer.


The plasma levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, IGFBP-3, and C-peptide as well as data on prognostic factors and body size were measured at baseline among 527 patients participating in a randomized trial of first-line chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer.


Higher baseline plasma IGFBP-3 levels were associated with a significantly greater chemotherapy response rate (P = 0.03) after adjusting for other prognostic factors, whereas neither IGF-I nor IGF-II levels significantly predicted tumor response. Higher levels of IGF-I, IGF-II, and IGFBP-3 were all univariately associated with improved overall survival (P = 0.0001 for all). In a model that mutually adjusted for IGF-I and IGFBP-3, as well as other prognostic factors, increasing baseline-circulating IGFBP-3 was associated with a significantly longer time to tumor progression (P = 0.03), whereas circulating IGF-I was not associated with disease progression (P = 0.95). Levels of C-peptide were not associated with any measure of patient outcome.


Among colorectal cancer patients receiving first-line chemotherapy, increasing levels of IGFBP-3, an endogenous antagonist to IGF-I, are associated with an improved objective treatment response and a prolonged time to cancer progression. The IGF pathway may represent an important target for future treatment strategies.

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