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J Cell Physiol. 2008 Nov;217(2):377-87. doi: 10.1002/jcp.21507.

Age-related differences in insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor signaling regulates Akt/FOXO3a and ERK/Fos pathways in vascular smooth muscle cells.

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Department of Medicine, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont.


Advanced age is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis, but how aging per se influences pathogenesis is not clear. Insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) promotes aortic vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) growth, migration, and extracellular matrix formation, but how IGF-1R signaling changes with age in VSMC is not known. We previously found age-related differences in the activation of Akt/FOXO3a and ERK1/2 pathways in VSMC, but the upstream signaling remains unclear. Using explanted VSMC from Fischer 344/Brown Norway F1 hybrid rats shown to display age-related vascular pathology similar to humans, we compared IGF-1R expression in early passages of VSMC and found a constitutive activation of IGF-1R in VSMC from old compared to young rats, including IGF-1R expression and its tyrosine kinase activity. The link between IGF-1R activation and the Akt/FOXO3a and ERK pathways was confirmed through the induction of IGF-1R with IGF-1 in young cells and attenuation of IGF-1R with an inhibitor in old cells. The effects of three kinase inhibitors: AG1024, LY294002, and TCN, were compared in VSMC from old rats to differentiate IGF-1R from other upstream signaling that could also regulate the Akt/FOXO and ERK pathways. Genes for p27kip-1, catalase and MnSOD, which play important roles in the control of cell cycle arrest and stress resistance, were found to be FOXO3a-targets based on FOXO3a-siRNA treatment. Furthermore, IGF-1R signaling modulated these genes through activation of the Akt/FOXO3a pathway. Therefore, activation of IGF-1R signaling influences VSMC function in old rats and may contribute to the increased risk for atherosclerosis.

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