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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2001 May;21(5):493-502.

Insulin-like growth factor-1 reduces postischemic white matter injury in fetal sheep.

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  • 1Research Center for Developmental Medicine and Biology, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is known to be important for oligodendrocyte survival and myelination. In the current study, the authors examined the hypothesis that exogenous IGF-1 could reduce postischemic white matter injury. Bilateral brain injury was induced in near-term fetal sheep by 30 minutes of reversible carotid artery occlusion. Ninety minutes after ischemia, either vehicle (n = 8) or a single dose of 3 microg IGF-1 (n = 9) was infused intracerebroventricularly over 1 hour. White matter changes were assessed after 4 days recovery in the parasagittal intragyral white matter and underlying corona radiata. Proteolipid protein (PLP) mRNA staining was used to identify bioactive oligodendrocytes. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and isolectin B-4 immunoreactivity were used to label astrocytes and microglia, respectively. Myelin basic protein (MBP) density and the area of the intragyral white matter tracts were determined by image analysis. Insulin-like growth factor-1 treatment was associated with significantly reduced loss of oligodendrocytes in the intragyral white matter (P < 0.05), with improved MBP density (P < 0.05), reduced tissue swelling, and increased numbers of GFAP and isolectin B-4 positive cells compared with vehicle treatment. After ischemia there was a close association of PLP mRNA labeled cells with reactive astrocytes and macrophages/microglia. In conclusion, IGF-1 can prevent delayed, postischemic oligodendrocyte cell loss and associated demyelination.

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