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Circ Res. 2000 Feb 4;86(2):125-30.

The insulin-like growth factor axis: A review of atherosclerosis and restenosis.

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  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Insulin-like growth factors I and II (IGF-I and -II) and their regulatory proteins are secreted by cells of the cardiovascular system. They are growth promoters for arterial cells and mediators of cardiovascular disease. IGFs are bound to IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs), which modulate IGF ligand-receptor interaction and consequently to IGF action. IGFBPs are in turn posttranslationally modulated by specific proteases. This dynamic balance (IGFs, IGFBPs, and IGFBP proteases) constitutes the IGF axis and ultimately determines the extent of IGF-dependent cellular effects. Dysregulated actions of this axis influence coronary atherosclerosis through effects on vascular smooth muscle cell growth, migration, and extracellular matrix synthesis in the atherosclerotic plaque. IGF-I promotes macrophage chemotaxis, excess LDL cholesterol uptake, and release of proinflammatory cytokines. Endothelial cells also receive the effects of IGFs stimulating their migration and organization forming capillary networks. Neointimal hyperplasia of restenosis after coronary artery injury is also modulated by the IGF axis. IGFs stimulate vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration to form the neointima and upregulate tropoelastin synthesis after disruption of the elastic layer. Understanding IGF axis regulation establishes a scientific basis for strategies directed to limit or reverse plaque growth and vulnerability in atherosclerosis and in the neointimal hyperplasia of restenosis.

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