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Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Mar;3(3):302-10.

Mechanisms of disease: metabolic effects of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Diseases, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029-6574, USA.


Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) 1 is a member of a family that is involved in growth, development, cell differentiation, and metabolism. IGF1, IGF2 and insulin act primarily through tyrosine-kinase-linked receptors--the IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) and insulin receptor (IR). The IGF1R binds IGF1 and IGF2 with high affinity and the IR binds insulin with high affinity; however, since both receptors share a high degree of structural and functional homology, the IGF1R can bind insulin and the IR can bind the IGFs with reduced affinity. These two receptors can, moreover, form heterodimers, which bind both ligands. Upon binding to the receptors, cascades of tyrosine and serine kinases are stimulated to facilitate growth or metabolism. The IGF2 receptor is a scavenger receptor, and is, therefore, not involved in mediation of growth or metabolic effects of the IGF family and will not be discussed in the current article. IGF1 is a major gene target of growth hormone and its product mediates many of the actions of growth hormone on growth and development; however, IGF1 has actions distinct from those of growth hormone in carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism. For example, excess growth hormone causes insulin resistance and hyperglycemia, whereas IGF1 has insulin-like effects that reduce blood glucose levels and has been used experimentally to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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