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J Neurobiol. 1999 Apr;39(1):142-52.

IGF-I deficient mice show reduced peripheral nerve conduction velocities and decreased axonal diameters and respond to exogenous IGF-I treatment.

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Department of Neuroscience, Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, California 94080, USA.


Although insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) can act as a neurotrophic factor for peripheral neurons in vitro and in vivo following injury, the role IGF-I plays during normal development and functioning of the peripheral nervous system is unclear. Here, we report that transgenic mice with reduced levels (two genotypes: heterozygous Igf1+/- or homozygous insertional mutant Igf1m/m) or totally lacking IGF-I (homozygous Igf1-/-) show a decrease in motor and sensory nerve conduction velocities in vivo. In addition, A-fiber responses in isolated peroneal nerves from Igf1+/- and Igf1-/- mice are impaired. The nerve function impairment is most profound in Igf1-/- mice. Histopathology of the peroneal nerves in Igf1-/- mice demonstrates a shift to smaller axonal diameters but maintains the same total number of myelinated fibers as Igf1+/+ mice. Comparisons of myelin thickness with axonal diameter indicate that there is no significant reduction in peripheral nerve myelination in IGF-I-deficient mice. In addition, in Igf1m/m mice with very low serum levels of IGF-I, replacement therapy with exogenous recombinant hIGF-I restores both motor and sensory nerve conduction velocities. These findings demonstrate not only that IGF-I serves an important role in the growth and development of the peripheral nervous system, but also that systemic IGF-I treatment can enhance nerve function in IGF-I-deficient adult mice.

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